Bipartisan group of lawmakers, state employees, oppose plans to close regional psych center

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ORANGEBURG – A group of state legislators from the Hudson Valley and the Civil Service Employees Association have banded together to oppose the governor’s proposal, contained in his budget, to close the Rockland Children’s Psychiatric Center and move the beds to a facility in the Bronx.

The Rockland center provides inpatient services to residents across the region covering Rockland, Westchester, Orange, Sullivan, Putnam, Dutchess and Ulster counties as well as the greater New York City area.

“The only thing that will be accomplished by moving these beds to the Bronx is the creation of greater hardship on Hudson Valley families,” said CSEA Regional President Anthony Adamo. “Even before the pandemic, mental healthcare resources for children in our community were in need of expansion. That need has only grown over the past year.”

He called the plan to move the beds a “cruel decision,” and said rather than closing the children’s facility and cutting additional Office of Mental Health beds, “we should be expanding services on the RPC campus. The state has a responsibility to care for our most vulnerable New Yorkers; closing RCPC and reducing beds would be abandoning them.”

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther (D, Forestburgh), chairwoman of the Assembly Committee on Mental Health, said the proposed closure “couldn’t come at a worse time.” She said children statewide “have been dealing with the effects of COVID-19 for a year, and the administration’s response is to make mental health services more difficult to obtain.”

Gunther is a registered nurse, who knows “that continuity of care means everything to a patient’s recovery.”

Also opposing proposal are Senators Elijah Reichlin-Melnick (D, Rockland), James Skoufis (D, Cornwall), Sue Serino (R, Hyde Park), and Mike Martucci (R, New Hampton), and Assemblymen Ken Zebrowski (D, Rockland), Jonathan Jacobson (D, Newburgh, and Colin Schmitt (R, New Windsor).