Updated: 05/27/2014 11:17 PM
Created: 05/27/2014 4:06 PM WHEC.com
A public meeting to discuss the fate of the Rochester Psychiatric Center took place on Tuesday.
New York State's planned 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 there by the court.
Neighbors have had many concerns about this plan. Some wonder how a center like this would change the look and feel of their neighborhood and others wonder about a possible security breach, but Tuesday’s meeting put those concerns to bed for many residents.
Things will be changing at the Rochester Psych Center, but the changes will be overtime with community involvement.
The plan to turn the center into a prison-like facility for upward of 150 mentally ill criminals has been tabled. They will bring in more criminals, but the changes will be over time instead of immediate.
“All I have right now is this year’s plan to reduce civil beds by 60,” said Elizabeth Suhre, executive director of the Rochester Psych Center.
Civil beds are the patients ordered to the facility by the court, but they are able to walk freely. Forensic are those ordered there by the court and are confined to one building. The plan is as the civil beds close, more forensic beds will open, and neighbors are concerned about that.
“If there is a chance, at some point, that some of those patients can leave the campus, on their own, un-escorted. We are concerned about who they are,” said Dave Day, a neighbor.
Officials say the additional individuals will live in the same building where the current forensic patients are held. The area is contained by tall fencing.
“The individuals on the secure unit do not leave the facility un-escorted, so that is not an issue,” said Suhre.
Officials with the Psych Center vowed they will have a representative from each of the neighborhood groups present at the planning meetings going forward so everyone’s thoughts can be heard and considered.