Statement from Senator O'Mara on today's announcement of the closing of the Elmira Psychiatric Center (Updated, July 11)

Thomas F. O'Mara

July 10, 2013


Elmira, N.Y., July 10— State Senator Tom O’Mara (R,C-Big Flats) released the following statement on today’s announcement by the Cuomo administration that it will close the Elmira Psychiatric Center, resulting in the potential loss of 250 local jobs, under a state Office of Mental Health (OMH) reorganization plan:

"I am truly angered, disappointed and disheartened that the administration has failed to heed our repeated calls to save the Elmira Psychiatric Center.  It’s a failure to recognize the fundamental importance of the Elmira Psychiatric Center to the 11-county region this dedicated, high quality and successful facility has served with distinction.  

“I’ve strongly made the case, together with many other local leaders, that the Elmira PC is an irreplaceable cornerstone of this region’s and state’s mental health system.   The Elmira PC has demonstrated an undeniable record as New York State’s most cost effective, efficient, innovative, high quality and successful provider of mental health services.  There simply isn’t a network of community-based organizations across this region to take the place of the Elmira PC.  The Elmira PC has been an absolute lifeline of accessible, compassionate and quality care for patients and families.  Its programs and services have long stood as the first responder for treatment, as well as the front line of defense against the firearms-related and other tragedies of the violent mentally ill.

“It’s tough news today for patients and families, for the Elmira PC’s dedicated professionals and staff, and for Elmira and communities across our entire region.  But I believe it’s the wrong decision, and the consequences are enormous.  It remains impossible to justify, in my view, and I will continue to urge Governor Cuomo and his administration to reconsider the future of the Elmira PC.  We’re not about to give up the fight to somehow find a way to ensure that the Elmira PC’s tradition of care, prevention and treatment for patients and families throughout our rural communities is carried on.”

In a report released earlier today, OMH unveiled its plan to close psychiatric hospitals in Elmira, Binghamton and several other communities statewide next year.  State law requires the State Legislature be given a one-year notice on hospital closures or consolidations.  

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. 

Layoffs are not planned and employees will be given the opportunity to transfer or retrain for other jobs, according to the OMH.  

[Update, July 11: Read more in this morning's Star-Gazette & The Leader]