Citing the impact on New York’s most vulnerable children and local communities, as well as the potential loss of jobs, PEF and CSEA leaders stood with state legislators and local officials to protest the state’s plan to close Rockland Children’s Psychiatric Center (RCPC).
At a press conference on Monday, March 8, PEF President Wayne Spence was joined by CSEA Southern Region President Anthony Adamo and legislative leaders Sen. Elijah Reichlin-Melnick, Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, Sen. James Skoufis, Assemblyman Mike Lawler and Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, as well as Rockland County Executive Ed Day.
“The mental health needs of adults and children have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic and now is not the time to propose cutting services or closing facilities,” Spence said. “Despite the Executive Budget pointing to lower utilization, our members say beds are filling up and patients are in need of skilled, inpatient care. RCPC and facilities like it are often the last resource for the state’s most vulnerable citizens. Without them, many of these people would be left untreated, which increases their chances of run-ins with the criminal justice system and other social service providers.”
RCP provides inpatient services to a large area, covering Rockland, Westchester, Orange, Sullivan, Putnam, Dutchess and Ulster counties, as well as the greater New York City area.
The Executive Budget proposal would shutter RCPC and give the Commissioner of Mental Health the authority to “close, consolidate, reduce, transfer or otherwise redesign services of hospitals, other facilities and programs operated by OMH and to implement significant reductions and reconfigurations.” The proposal also seeks to reduce staffing at OMH by 3 percent and OMH has proposed reducing beds and services across the state, including 292 inpatient, youth and forensic psychiatric beds – on top of the 99 beds eliminated in November and December of 2020.
“We believe that regional hospitals continue to seek placements of individuals in the state’s psychiatric programs,” Spence said. “It seems counterintuitive that during a global public health crisis, fewer persons would require psychiatric support at state facilities.”
PEF members can add their voice to the collective call to stop the cutting and consolidation of mental health services. Just visit the union’s website to submit a letter to your local lawmakers on this bad budget proposal and others identified by PEF’s Statewide Political Action Committee.
|CHECK OUT AREA NEWS COVERAGE:|
|Times Herald-Record: Lawmakers blast Cuomo for Rockland Children’s Psychiatric Center changes amid pandemic stress|
|Rockland Westchester-Journal News: Lawmakers blast Cuomo for Rockland Children’s Psychiatric Center changes amid pandemic stress|
|Mid-Hudson News: Public officials, union leadership call on state to keep Rockland Children’s Psychiatric open|
By KATE MOSTACCIO