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State mental health leader visits Buffalo Psychiatric Center

There are big changes coming for the state's vast mental health system, grappling with embedded costs and a lot of residents who need help. Acting Mental Health Commissioner Kristin Woodlock is on a state-wide listening tour finishing up in Ogdensburg May 15.

Woodlock appeared at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center Wednesday, one of the state's 24-major psychiatric centers

Woodlock's draft strategic plan is slated to be finished May 20.  She met with Buffalo Psych Center staff, patients and members of the Board of Visitors.

The acting commissioner sketched some of the possible shifts to move care closer to those who need help.

Woodlock says operations are locked deeply into the past.

"Our resources are not in optimal alignment with what we know works. What we know promotes recovery in adults and in kids. Our current model is still that 1840s model. Yes, we have made dramatic changes in our in-patients. Yes, we have made dramatic changes in some of our newer buildings. But we still have that heavy reliance on long-term in-patient care," said Woodlock.

Woodlock says much more care is likely to be delivered anywhere from community health centers to mobile staffs with continuing reliance on the traditional psych centers carrying the names of centers of excellence.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.