The state’s largest public employee union knocked the state’s plan to consolidate mental hospitals in a statement Wednesday, calling it vague and irresponsible.
“There is nothing of excellence in Governor Cuomo’s proposal to close psychiatric centers, leave seriously ill people without the help they need and dump more unfunded mandates on local taxpayers,” said Danny Donohue, president of the state Civil Service Employees Association.
The state Public Employees Federation, a union, said it was still reviewing the plan to determine how it would impact its members. The union estimates it has 9,500 members statewide working in facilities that will merge into regional centers.
“Our concerns are for our members’ continuity of employment and that the quality services that our members provide to this community are continued,” spokeswoman Jane Briggs said.
Mental health advocates lauded the plan in a statement Wednesday, although they said they hope to see the state reinvest savings into community-based programs.
“Our organizations welcome these proposals to reconfigure state dollars and staff in a way that maximizes state resources to meet our communities’ most pressing needs, while at the same time creating state of the art regional psychiatric facilities that are among the nation’s best,” said the state Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, the Mental Health Association and other groups in the statement.
Sen. Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, said he will fight the closures. Eliminating the psychiatric centers in Binghamton and Elmira will cost the region jobs, disrupt families and rob residents of quality mental health care, he said.
“The entire Southern Tier region of the state no longer will have psychiatric services. That’s horrible,” he said. “To look at this as a numbers game, to just say we are going to save money, is extremely insensitive.”
Photo: CSEA President Danny Donohue, AP