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Assault at Buffalo Psychiatric Center raises new concerns

Mike Desmond/WBFO News

The assault on a nurse at Buffalo Psychiatric Center Saturday afternoon has added new fuel to the debate over plans to close the Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center in West Seneca. That plan, which would transfer young patients to the Forest Avenue facility, continues to draw fervent local opposition.


The fight has been going on for years, trying to keep the children's center open on the grounds of what was once the far larger West Seneca Developmental Center. Each year, moving the kids to Forest Avenue has been fought off, with Assemblyman Mickey Kearns and State Senator Pat Gallivan leading the fight. The current plan, with some construction contracts out for bid, calls for a major reconfiguration in the Strozzi Building to house young patients, with a play yard outside.

We're known and we've commented that this facility in West Seneca has a lower re-institutional rate than any other facility in the state," Kearns said. 

"It's a top-10 facility nationally, top 10 hospital and their accreditation report back in 2012, they received a 99.99 rating."

There was an incident last year at BPC when an adult patient went off the grounds and attacked a 14-year-old. Coupled with Saturday's incident, the push to keep children out of the BPC appears to be gaining momentum.

Kearns wants to know if there has been a secret financial settlement with the girl or with her family. The patient had roaming privileges.

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.