Frequently Asked Questions
- Why are you proposing the relocation of WNYCPC to Buffalo?
The relocation will allow OMH to significantly expand community-based services in the region to more than 1,000 additional children and families, without the need to increase taxes or State spending. The relocation will ensure the same high quality level of care and services provided by the same staff at a nearby location. All individuals currently receiving services at WNYPC will complete their treatment at WNYPC.
- How will the planned relocation improve services for children?
Children who are experiencing serious emotional problems deserve to be treated in the most integrated, least restrictive community setting possible. To this end, OMH is shifting toward offering alternatives to hospitalization, such as early childhood supports, urgent community based mental health care, and ensuring that every child has access to the mental health care that he or she needs, when and where he or she needs it. The goal is to reduce a dependence on children’s psychiatric hospital beds by offering community alternatives and treatment options earlier on, thereby decreasing the likelihood that an inpatient hospital stay is even necessary. Relocation will allow OMH to reinvest $3.2 million in savings into child and family services currently operating in Western NY, allowing us to serve more than 1,000 additional children and families in the WNY region.
Consistent with the State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2017 Enacted Budget agreement, approximately $1.7 million has already been pre-invested in State and locally-operated child and family services in WNY, increasing services to an additional 500 children and families. These service enhancements include:
- 24 Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Waiver slots (at least 24 additional children served)
- Western New York Children’s Mobile Integration Team (more than 400 additional children served)
- Children’s Outpatient Clinic Expansion (more than 100 additional children served)
- Mobile Mental Health Juvenile Justice Team Expansion (more than 40 additional children served)
The remaining $1.5 million available after relocation will be used to further expand children’s services in the WNYCPC catchment area, and nearly double the number of children we have already served with the existing reinvestment resources. Through consultation with OMH, some potential new programs proposed by local stakeholders have included:
- Crisis/respite residential services
- Enhanced intensive-in home services for families and children, and;
- Additional mobile treatment and supports
And finally, the expanded community-based outpatient and mobile services will make a number of new services more accessible to a much larger number of children across the entire WNYPCPC service area.
- Will children and families have to travel longer distances to receive services?
The relocation will actually improve access to services for most families. More children at WNYCPC come from the City of Buffalo than anywhere else, and the second largest represented area is Niagara County, which is also closer to the Buffalo campus. Relocating this facility in Buffalo keeps children closer to their families, which is a critical aspect of inpatient care. Children will also be closer to their community providers, referring hospital and support systems.
Increased accessibility will allow for families to participate in their child’s education, treatment, meals, and bedtime routines. For families not from Buffalo, there will be greater access to accommodations and public transportation systems than currently exist in West Seneca.
- Will children be housed with adults?
No. All inpatient treatment, education and recreation space –both indoor and outdoor- will be specially designed for youth and completely separate from the adult services on the Buffalo campus. There will be absolutely no mixing of children and adults. This is consistent with the six other OMH campuses that operate both children and adult services (Elmira, Greater Binghamton Health Center, St. Lawrence, South Beach, Hutchings and the Bronx Campus of the New York City Children’s Center)
- Aren’t there sex offenders currently housed at BPC?
By the time the Children’s Inpatient facility is completed at Buffalo Psychiatric Center, there will be no sex offenders residing on the BPC campus.
- Aren’t children better served at their own separate facility?
Children will be in a separate facility at Buffalo, consistent with how OMH operates several other inpatient campuses that successfully serve both adult and child populations. The secure inpatient treatment and support services these children receive are not affected in any way by the treatment and support provided to other individuals in separate OMH programs.
The proposed children’s unit has been designed as a physically and visually separate and secure area on the OMH Buffalo campus, featuring controlled entryways and other intensive security measures. Children will not have contact or interaction with adult patients on our grounds and will be under staff supervision at all times.
- Will children currently at WNYCPC be relocated to Buffalo?
No. WNYCPC provides short term interventions and long term positive outcomes for children and their families. The average length of stay at WNYCPC in 2016 was 78 days. No child currently at WNYCPC will be in the facility when the Buffalo campus has been completed in 2019, and no individual will be required to relocate mid-treatment.
- How much money will be saved by relocating WNYCPC?
OMH and NY taxpayers will save at least $3.2 million annually by eliminating the fixed costs associated with operating a freestanding campus. These savings will be reinvested to expand services in the region.
In addition, the relocation would avoid the need for significant long term capital costs to repair and maintain the 50-year old WNYPC building. If the facility were to remain open, the costs of addressing and replacing the aged and inefficient mechanical, electrical, heating and air-conditioning systems as well as necessary repairs to the building envelope (roof, windows, etc) are estimated to be as high as $40 million.
- Why don't you just add money to the budget to add services in the region, rather than proceeding with the relocation?
We believe it is vital to continuously pursue more efficient operations to limit the burden on State taxpayers. We must use our taxpayer-funded health care dollars wisely. This is a win-win situation that preserves high quality services and expands services in the region without increasing State spending or taxes.
- Has OMH held public forums to seek input from families, children’s advocates and other stakeholders?
Yes. OMH aggressively pursued a lengthy public engagement process beginning in 2014 that involved two public forums, more than 30 meetings and phone calls with individual legislators, dozens of meetings with local planning groups and community stakeholders, and the creation of a separate website to solicit input from all interested parties. For more information see the complete listing of public engagement.
Approximately 90 people attended the two public forums over two days and more than a dozen people spoke, including local elected officials. OMH also took public comment via the website on the capital plans from early September to October.
The results of this public input process are reflected in the overall relocation effort, including the latest state-of-the-art building design, the clear separation of children, the types of enhanced community-based services, the preservation of existing inpatient capacity, and the reaffirmation that sex offenders will not be housed at Buffalo.
OMH staff in WNY have met with community stakeholders; and OMH executive staff, including the Commissioner, have travelled to Western NY to meet with advocates, local and state public officials, labor unions and other stakeholders multiple times.
- Will any staff members be laid off?
No. The same staff and organizational structure will exist at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center as exists at WNYCPC. There will be no layoffs, and no reduction in the quality of care and services provided. All employees will be offered their same positions and "pass schedules" at the nearby Buffalo campus.
- Isn’t a more rural environment better for kids’ recoveries?
No, individuals can successfully recover in any safe and secure environment. There is no evidence to suggest a rural setting is needed for recovery from mental illness. In fact, the vast majority of children receive services at facilities in or near cities, and there are no negative effects from a city campus setting. Moreover, the modern design of the children’s unit and recreational areas in Buffalo is a vast improvement in terms of safety, aesthetics, and operating efficiency.
We also believe care will be better in Buffalo because children will be closer to their families and natural support systems. More children at WNYCPC come from Buffalo than any other city or county in its service area.
Relocation will also provide increased access to cultural and community activities. Youth will be able to visit the Albright-Knox and Burchfield-Penney art galleries, Delaware Park, the Buffalo History museum and the Buffalo Zoo.
- Since WNYCPC is successfully treating children now, why relocate the facility?
The same management and operational structure, as well as staff, will continue the same high quality treatment and care services at the state-of-the-art newly refurbished Buffalo campus. And while we maintain these high quality in-patient services, the relocation will also allow us to expand effective community-based services for 1,000 more children and families in the region without increasing taxes and spending.
- Are there plans for the WNYCPC campus in West Seneca to be redeveloped?
No, however OMH is gathering input from other state agencies, stakeholders and local elected officials to determine the best alternate reuse plans for the West Seneca campus.