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NYS has plans for would-be children's psych center, legislators learn

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

The idea was first introduced during the large-scale bipartisan local effort to keep the Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center open in West Seneca: use the state's planned new facility at the Buffalo Psychatric Center campus as a drug treatment center. Erie County Legislators wondering if that would be instead learned Thursday the state has another plan for that space.

The idea of using the would-be new children's psychiatric campus as a drug treatment facility was revisited during the Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee hearing. Lawmakers learned that because it's a contractually-obligated project, construction was continuing on the new facility on the Buffalo Psychiatric Center campus.

But New York State already has a new plan for that space, Erie County Mental Health Commissioner Michael Ranney informed lawmakers. 

"What (New York State Office of Mental Health) and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities is anticipating doing, since there is not this option in New York State presently, is a neurobehavioral inpatient unit,"  Ranney said. "It's specific to individuals who are dually diagnosed. That dual diagnosis would be having a developmental disability but also a behavioral health condition."

The new facility could be ready in early 2019, according to Ranney. Legislator John Bruso, who chairs the committee, is satisfied with the state's idea, agreeing with the notion that such a center is needed.

"I think we're going to find that that is a trend that maybe wasn't looked at before," he said. "Moving forward we're going to be looking at that trend. I'd be sure of it, yes."

Meanwhile, the Erie County Health Department provided lawmakers some encouraging numbers from the opioid epidemic. It's a downward trend, with 104 confirmed deaths to date in Erie County and 78 suspected cases. Last year a total 251 opioid-related fatalities were recorded.

Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein says one of the factors contributing to the downward trend is a decrease in the prescription of hydrocodone as a pain reliever. In 2015, it was the top prescribed drug.

Now, according to Burstein, it's 10th overall.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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