State plans to re­place in­pa­tient wings

The Buffalo News - - CITY & REGION -

CEN­TER •fromC1

would al­low it to serve an ad­di­tional 500 chil­dren and fam­i­lies with al­ter­na­tives to hos­pi­tal­iza­tion.

Sup­port­ers of the cur­rent site mounted a cam­paign, in­clud­ing a law­suit, to keep it in West Seneca. The April an­nounce­ment that the pro­gram would re­main was cause for cel­e­bra­tion.

And cel­e­bra­tion turned to ju­bi­la­tion when word went out late last month that the state Dor­mi­tory Au­thor­ity had is­sued a re­quest for pro­pos­als (RFP) for an ad­di­tion to the cen­ter, which was built in 1970.

The hand­prints are a sym­bol of how the fam­i­lies, for­mer pa­tients and sup­port­ers feel about the pro­gram that treats chil­dren and youth with se­vere emo­tional prob­lems.

“See­ing that hand­print gave us hope there was life past a men­tal health di­ag­no­sis,” said Catalina De la Es­priella, whose daugh­ter was treated at the cen­ter.

De la Es­priella is a mem­ber of Save Our WNY Chil­dren’s Psychiatric Cen­ter, which fought plans to move the pro­gram. The grass-roots group bought a large buf­falo sculp­ture with money left over from its cam­paign. It stands in the lobby of the cen­ter, and has been adorned with hand­prints of sup­port­ers, fam­ily mem­bers and for­mer pa­tients.

“The Chil­dren’s Psych Cen­ter saved our fam­ily,” said De la Es­priella, whose daugh­ter had se­vere de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety and sev­eral sui­cide at­tempts. “Af­ter four months, they gave us back not just our daugh­ter, but our fam­ily.”

Her daugh­ter’s hand­print is on the wall, but Natalia, now in col­lege, wanted to come back to place her hand­print on the large buf­falo sculp­ture Satur­day morn­ing.

As part of the ren­o­va­tion, the state plans to re­place the in­pa­tient units and sup­port ser­vices wings.

“The $30 mil­lion project will add 48,000 square feet to the fa­cil­ity to pro­vide wel­com­ing, bright and ther­a­peu­tic en­vi­ron­ments for the chil­dren we serve,” the state Of­fice of Men­tal Health said in a writ­ten state­ment.

“This fol­low-through is an ex­cla­ma­tion point on the state’s com­mit­ment,” State Sen. Pa­trick Gal­li­van, R-Elma, said.

Gal­li­van, who helped lead a bi­par­ti­san ef­fort in the State Leg­is­la­ture to keep the cen­ter in West Seneca, said the ren­o­va­tions would help en­sure the vi­a­bil­ity of the cen­ter well into the fu­ture.

The ex­ist­ing 46-bed fa­cil­ity presents “sig­nif­i­cant su­per­vi­sion prob­lems,” and the me­chan­i­cal, elec­tri­cal, plumb­ing and fire pro­tec­tion sys­tems have ex­ceeded their nor­mal life ex­pectancy, ac­cord­ing to the RFP. It said the ad­di­tion will be mul­ti­story with sin­gle bed­rooms, bath­rooms, group/vis­it­ing spa­ces, and se­cure out­door re­cre­ation ar­eas.

Ren­o­va­tions also are planned in the ex­ist­ing ed­u­ca­tional and ad­min­is­tra­tive spa­ces.

“The new ad­di­tion for WNY CPC is in­tended to be a heal­ing cen­ter for highly trau­ma­tized chil­dren. As such, the de­sign is ex­pected to be wel­com­ing, and in­clude invit­ing col­ors, nat­u­ral light, quiet spa­ces, soft light­ing, and acous­tic con­trol. It must be un­ob­tru­sively se­cure, and easy to su­per­vise,” ac­cord­ing to the RFP.

The ex­ist­ing in­pa­tient units and sup­port ser­vices wings are to be de­mol­ished.

“We’re thrilled, we didn’t ex­pect it. It re­ally came out of the blue,” Chudy said about the state in­vest­ment.

Those who fought to save the pro­gram are ecstatic. Jenny Laney’s daugh­ter, who now is a mother of two, was in the cen­ter sev­eral times when she was younger.

“It’s im­por­tant to me be­cause chil­dren con­tinue to strug­gle with men­tal health,” said Laney, who over­sees the peer pro­gram for Men­tal Health Ad­vo­cates of West­ern New York.

“Keep­ing it in that serene, holis­tic en­vi­ron­ment was re­ally im­por­tant to me,” she added.

Ver­non Scan­lon spent nearly four years at the cen­ter. He and his mother, Al­li­son, had al­ready put their hand­prints on the buf­falo. He wanted to go to the cen­ter Satur­day to place his hand­print on the wall, and to have his daugh­ter put hers on the buf­falo. Pre­serv­ing the pro­gram was im­por­tant to him, so that it would be there if ever his daugh­ter should need it.

“It’s worked and been so suc­cess­ful for so many fam­i­lies,” Al­li­son Scan­lon said. “They cer­tainly saved our fam­ily.”

John Hickey/Buf­falo News

Ver­non Scan­lon, who spent nearly four years at the cen­ter, helped his daugh­ter, Cheyenne, put hand­prints on the cen­ter’s buf­falo with his mother, Al­li­son.

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