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Repurposing psychiatric center stirs concerns

Updated: Tuesday, April 8 2014, 05:16 PM EDT

Rochester, N.Y.- Rochester Psychiatric Center will turn into the Western New York Forensic Center of Excellence, according to a 2013 report by the New York State Office of Mental Health.

The questions being asked by residents along Elmwood Avenue are when and how that will alter the neighborhood.

"Here we have the psychiatric center and thousands and thousands of people are coming for the Lilac Festival," said David Day, a resident. "We're very concerned that the appearance of Elmwood Avenue in particular--and our homeowners who live facing the psychiatric center on Elmwood are, you know, going to feel comfortable with how the place looks there."

Day said he is also worried about safety.  As the RPC's client base expands, it is expected to focus on treating patients required to receive treatment via court order.

"I'm certainly not against expansion," said Dan Hurley, President of the Upper Mt. Hope Avenue Neighborhood Association. "I'm against how it's expanded."

There is a forensic center on the RPC campus, complete with high fences topped with razor wire, though it is hidden from sight for those on Elmwood Avenue.

"I think there needs to be a little bit more dialogue with local residents before a decision is handed down from on high--from a bureaucrat in Albany," said Senator Michael Razenhofer (R-61st).

Assemblyman Harry Bronson (D-138th) told 13WHAM News his office has spoken with the Office of Mental Health and plans to have an informational meeting in the near future with residents near the RPC.

"I do think at this point it's time for neighbors to hear officially what the plan is and have some input," added Bronson.

The state is in the process of consolidating 24 mental health hospitals into 15 regional centers.

A total of 55 forensic inpatient beds will be in place by 2015-2016.  There will be 155 by 2016-2017 according to the OMH report.

The Office of Mental Health released the following statement:
Within the 2014-2015 State Budget, the Office of Mental Health's Rochester Psychiatric Center remains operational as a Psychiatric Center serving both Civil and Forensic inpatient populations, the same populations which it serves today.

Repurposing psychiatric center stirs concerns

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Washington Times