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New York State Exposed: Vague Psych Center plans

Updated: 04/28/2014 7:18 PM
Created: 04/28/2014 7:44 AM WHEC.com
By: Brett Davidsen

A neighborhood is fearful and frustrated about what could happen at the Rochester Psychiatric Center on Elmwood Avenue. Right now, the state is being tightlipped about future plans for the Rochester Psychiatric Center. 

News10NBC is told by insiders that the transition is already underway at the Rochester Psychiatric Center. It is plan that some worry could give it the appearance of a prison.

A change is coming here at the Rochester Psychiatric Center and it could have a dramatic impact on the neighborhoods around Elmwood Avenue.

Dan Hurley said, “So far, it doesn't look good because the state's not really providing us with any information."

It was almost a year ago when the state announced it was consolidating its mental hospitals. The plan called for the Rochester Psychiatric Center to close and re-open as the Western New York Regional Forensic Center, with 155 beds serving criminals and other dangerous mentally ill individuals ordered here by the court.

   

Rochester Psychiatric Center currently serves inpatient and outpatient clients and does have some forensic patients in a secure area of the facility. Families in the nearby Upper Mount Hope and Azalea neighborhoods have lots of questions, like will the future Rochester Psychiatric Center look like a prison with razor wire around the entire campus? What are the plans for upgraded security?

Hurley said, "We have a number of people that are concerned about this only because of the fact that we don't know anything. And it can't be a good thing if the state's not telling you about it. That's just the bottom line."

According to city and county officials, they're not being told either. 

To get an idea of what Rochester Psychiatric Center could look like in the future, News10NBC took a look at another forensic facility, Mid-Hudson Psychiatric Center near Middletown. The entire campus is surrounded by fencing and razor wire. Mid-Hudson is slated to close as part of the consolidation plan and many of those patients would be transferred to Rochester.    

Senator Michael Ranzenhofer represents the district that includes the Rochester Psychiatric Center.

Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer said, "Nobody wants a facility that looks like a prison in the middle of a residential and commercial neighborhood. It's just not appropriate."

News10NBC contacted the Office of Mental Health hoping to get more details, but it provided only a statement, which offered no additional clues about the future plans, only that it continues to operate this year as it always has.

News10NBC took our questions to Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy, who says he's not sure if the plans have been finalized.

Bob Duffy said, “I fully understand the impact the neighbors have, the concerns they would have. I have nothing on it. I'm not hiding or avoiding any answers. I clearly have had no information passed on to me at all about this."

If neighbors seem suspicious, it might be because they saw how the recent closing of the Monroe Developmental Center was handled. In February, in another New York State Exposed Report, News10NBC told you how local communities were kept in the dark as a dozen sex offenders were quietly moved from that facility into group home settings. 

Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer said, "This is not a standalone issue or item when you have a state agency taking an action which has a negative impact on a community."

The state did say it is planning to have a meeting with neighborhood groups probably late next month to try to address their concerns. 





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