The bean counters in Albany often see the world through distorted lenses. The most recent evidence of this is the decision of the State Office of Mental Health to move the Queens Children's Psychiatric Center (QCPC) in Bellerose to the Creedmoor campus.
The move is bitterly opposed by mental health professionals, area residents and local politicians, including State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose). They argue that the Creedmoor facility, which houses dangerously ill adults, is no place for children. It is that simple.
The motivation on the part of the state is purely financial. The state believes it can save millions of dollars by closing children's psychiatric centers throughout the state and moving them to adult centers. Opponents of the move say the amount saved will be nominal. But no matter how much is saved it does not justify risking the lives of children.
The Office of Mental Health has even invented its own bureaucratic doublespeak to justify their decision. Listen to Roger Klingman, a spokesman for the Office of Mental Health in Albany: the move, he says, makes sense and does not involve closure, but co-location. Say what?
The move in this involves crossing the street. But the difference between the two institutions is dramatic. Creedmoor is a vertical institution with metal gates and barbed wire. It was created to securely house adults who pose a threat to the community and themselves. The Queens Children's Psychiatric Center is a friendly looking campus with a ball field and a playground. Security here is far less obvious. By comparison, Creedmoor is a prison.
We are all for trimming budgets and cutting government waste, but when it comes to the care of children battling mental illness, the state should move slowly and very carefully. If anything, the governor and the legislators should be putting more money into the care of mentally ill children, both residential and outpatient.
Equally important, the state should take greater pains to listen to the voice of the local officials and residents before making decisions that will have a dramatic impact on a community. In most cases, the parents of children in a psychiatric facility have already gone through hell on earth. The state needn't make their plight worse by moving their children from a humane campus designed for children to a prison.
For the sake of the children, this move must not happen.
Editorial: Living in Pandora's box
You gotta like Henry Mennecke. And, if you do, you can't help but feel a little hostile towards the management company that is trying to throw this feisty senior citizen out of the apartment he has called home for the last 20 years.
Pandora Realty recently purchased the Bayside apartment building where Mennecke lives. Mennecke is 87 years old and is confined to a motorized wheelchair. He pays $200 a month for rent and can't afford to pay more. His wife recently died of cancer and he says he spent his life savings providing for her medical care.
The folks at Pandora say they have no record of his rent payments. They say they feel bad for him, but they're still giving him the boot. Unfortunately Mennecke has been saving his rent receipts. Kicking him out should not be easy.
If Mr. Mennecke has been living in this apartment for 20 years, then the claim that his apartment is illegal doesn't carry much weight. We can only hope that simple human decency will triumph over greed. Let Mr. Mennecke live out his last years in the home he and his wife cherished. Tell the people at Pandora to have a heart.
©2001 Community News Group
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