Bonacic: Legislature Protects Mental Health Services In Middletown
State Senator John J. Bonacic (R/I/C - Mount Hope) announced today that union, agency, and legislative leaders have agreed on a plan to close Middletown Psychiatric Center (MPC) while protecting jobs, patients, their families, as well as expanding community-based mental health programs.
"Governor Pataki proposed closing MPC in his budget without any plan in place to ensure adequate patient treatment, worker protection, or community based residential treatment facilities. This raised grave concerns and an outcry from workers, patients and their families. Senator Bonacic said.
"At my request, Office of Mental Health Commissioner Sharon Carpeniello, Public Employees Federation (PEF) and Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) officials met in my office to discuss and craft a plan to meet the needs of the community, workers, and consumers alike," stated Senator Bonacic.
Senator Bonacic said as part of the agreement, the State is expected, under current circumstances, to provide $7 million to enhance existing mental health programs; ensure worker placement in positions close to their homes; establish two 12-bed community residences; provide a mobile crisis unit for Sullivan County; create a 68-slot Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team for Orange County to provide a complete range of clinical services for treatment-resistent clients; and create two Housing Case Manager positions, one for Sullivan and one for Orange County.
"The closing of MPC without a plan is simply poor policy and would have set a horrendous precedent for the future treatment of people with mental health needs--a very vulnerable population," stated Senator Bonacic.
Senator Bonacic concluded, "It was extremely important to me to make sure all those impacted by this closure were heard, their needs were addressed, and that a sensible policy was implemented as a result."
Roger Benson, President of PEF stated, "This budget agreement is clearly a commitment to maintain the best mental health care possible continuing and enhancing state-operated services in Orange and Sullivan Counties. We appreciate the leadership shown by Senator Bonacic in working with all parties to bring about a positive result."
# # #