Buffalo General failed its psychiatric patients

On June 6, Buffalo General Hospital disproved its interest in being a “Center for Excellence.” Contrary to a commitment to Erie County Medical Center and therefore to the mental health needs of our community, the emergency psychiatric services and psychiatric units were systematically closed for admissions, and on June 14, all psychiatric patients were discharged. No notice, no plans and to the complete shock of families of patients being treated there. Doctors and staff were equally surprised. The story didn’t hit The Buffalo News until June 14, and then it was on page D-10. Another disappointment. Doesn’t anyone care?

There was an agreement between Buffalo General and ECMC that Buffalo General would transfer 48 inpatient beds to ECMC in January when the new facility to house these beds was completed. Buffalo General decided to close those beds six months early without any thought of the consequences for patients. There were no provisions made for the patients, who now have to scramble for care and be put on waiting lists to be admitted to BryLin or wait days at ECMC’s psychiatric emergency room to be evaluated.

Other hospitals and professionals are working overtime to fill the void created by Buffalo General. It is an abandonment of patients needing help, and an insult to the community – a travesty perpetrated by a facility that is going to claim ownership of the Medical Corridor and “state-of-the-art” treatment facilities. We need to call out this cavalier dismissal of those who need mental health treatment. We need to remember this when we are asked to support a facility that does not deserve our trust!

Marcy Rose

President, National Alliance

on Mental Illness in Buffalo

and Erie County