Elmira, N.Y., July 25—An online “Join The Fight!” petition drive launched just over a week ago by State Senator Tom O’Mara (R,C-Big Flats) continues to rally public support for the Elmira Psychiatric Center (Elmira PC) and has now gained 1,000 supporters.
"Word keeps spreading that the effort’s underway to try to convince the Cuomo administration to reconsider the future of the Elmira PC and to protect the place we believe it’s earned as a flagship of New York’s mental health system,” said O’Mara. “Support keeps building.”
O’Mara’s started his online petition on July 16th after the announcement by the state Office of Mental Health (OMH) of a comprehensive, statewide reorganization plan that will shut down inpatient services at the Elmira PC and psychiatric hospitals in eight other communities throughout New York, mostly upstate. The hospitals will be closed and existing services consolidated within 15 “regional centers of excellence” OMH plans to open across the state.
Under the plan, Elmira PC, Buffalo PC and Western New York Children’s PC will be merged into one regional center known as the Great Lakes RCE that will be located in Buffalo. The plans calls for no inpatient services to remain at Elmira, but the center will continue as a “community hub” of the Great Lakes RCE and provide highly specialized community services.
O’Mara has been critical of the OMH plan for failing to recognize the central role that the Elmira PC has played in the delivery of an inpatient and outpatient network of mental health services over an 11-county region across the Southern Tier, Finger Lakes and western New York. He continues to stress that the Elmira PC has been one of New York’s most cost effective, efficient, innovative and high quality mental health providers for decades and that the Cuomo administration plan fails to fully recognize the challenges of providing these services in the rural communities and regions where the Elmira PC has been successful.
Supporters of the Elmira PC also note that the Cuomo administration plan puts at risk hundreds of important local jobs.
The OMH plan would, as well, force area patients and their families to travel to Buffalo, Rochester or Utica for inpatient care. O’Mara said that risks unacceptable hardships for patients and families who would have to travel great distances and, in fact, may make some of them reluctant to seek out the care and treatment they need.
To join O’Mara’s “Join The Fight!” petition, CLICK HERE.
Stay updated on the overall effort in support of the Elmira PC, visit supportepc.org.