The state will consolidate its 24 mental hospitals into 15 regional centers over three years, the Office of Mental Health announced Wednesday, but officials said they do not expect layoffs.
Adult inpatient psychiatric centers in Binghamton and Elmira are set to close, starting in 2014, while a Rochester hospital will transform to a regional forensic facility, treating mentally ill people in the criminal justice system. Another forensic hospital in New Hampton, Orange County, will shut its doors, as will a children’s facility in West Seneca, Erie County.
Along with Rochester, regional centers will be established in Albany, Syracuse, Utica and Rockland County, as well as in New York City and Long Island. The state is expected to save $20 million in the consolidation.
The state hopes to protect jobs by shifting employees to the new regional centers or reassigning inpatient workers to community-based positions. Employees in Binghamton or Elmira, for example, could opt to transfer to regional hospitals in Buffalo, Syracuse or Utica, or they could be placed in outpatient clinics or other vacant mental health positions locally.
There are currently 373 employees at the Binghamton hospital and 363 at Elmira, state records show. The Rochester hospital that’s closing has 542 employees. At the New Hampton facility, there are 553 employees, and in West Seneca, there are 169. State officials stressed that the employee counts include inpatient, outpatient, facilities, administration and residential staff, and not all positions would be impacted.
Another change in the consolidation plan will allow patients to choose where to seek treatment, eliminating requirements based on geographical area.
“Working together with communities, we can and will change the outdated and costly way we serve individuals with mental illness,” Acting Mental Health Commissioner Kristin Woodlock said in a statement Wednesday. “We are courageous and determined to take the lead in moving our behavioral health system towards excellence.”
Here is a breakdown of the major changes:
- Existing mental hospitals in Binghamton, Syracuse and Utica will merge to form the Empire Upstate Regional Center with two inpatient campuses. An adult facility will house 185 beds in Syracuse, and a children’s facility will have 75 beds in Utica.
- The adult psychiatric centers currently in Buffalo and Elmira and the children’s treatment facility in West Seneca will merge to create the Great Lakes Regional Center in Buffalo. The consolidated facility will house 208 beds by 2017, when the plan is fully implemented.
- Rochester’s adult inpatients will be transferred to regional centers in Buffalo or Syracuse. Under the plan, the existing mental hospital in Rochester will transform into the Western New York Regional Forensic Center by 2017, serving 155 people in the criminal justice system, such as those who were deemed mentally unfit to stand trial for a crime.
- The adult and children’s psychiatric centers in Rockland County will merge to form the Lower Hudson Regional Center in Orangeburg, which will house 405 beds by 2017. A research-driven regional center will also be located in Rockland County at the Nathan Kline Institute, which collaborates with New York University on psychiatric research.
- Where inpatient hospitals will close, the state will create community-based “hubs,” which will provide administrative support for outpatient service providers. “Hubs” will be located in Buffalo, Rochester, Binghamton and Elmira, as well as Westchester County, Poughkeepsie and Middletown, Orange County.
- Several hospitals in New York City, Long Island and the North Country will also close or merge to form regional centers.
Photo: Greater Binghamton Health Center, from OMH website
Read the full plan: