Inpatient mental health services pose “big questions”

NORWICH – With the recent announcement that the inpatient mental health clinics will remain open in Binghamton and Elmira, Ruth Roberts, director of Chenango County Community Mental Hygiene Service, says she isn’t concerned those centers will close any time in the near future.

But that doesn’t mean the field of mental health should ignore a call for necessary change, she said, citing prevention as the key to fix dependency on inpatient housing for psychiatric patients.

“The general pattern lately has been to direct state funding and efforts more to preventing the need for inpatient operations. What we need to focus on as we move forward at the local level is what we’re doing to prevent people from going into inpatient housing,” she said.

In December, Governor Andrew Cuomo and State Senator Tom Libous (52nd Senate District) announced the Greater Binghamton Health Center (GBHC) and Elmira Psychiatric Center would stay open, despite previous announcements from the NYS Office of Mental Health that it would close the facilities by 2014 – a plan that was “a bad decision from the beginning,” said Roberts.

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