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Plan to move kids’ psych center to Creemoor stalls

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The plans to relocate the Queens Children’s Psychiatric Center to the Creedmoor campus has been put on hold, at least for this year.

State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), one of the harshest critics of the plan, said recently a resolution to relocate the center was not included in the state Senate and state Assembly’s budget.

“The idea of treating children in the prisonlike setting of Creedmoor in close proximity to mentally ill adults is abhorrent,” Padavan said, “and we cannot allow it to happen.”

Padavan has been one of the proposed project’s staunchest critics, which led to a ground swell of support from Queens residents to kill the relocation plans. And recently he joined an alliance of mental health groups, lawmakers, and parents to halt the planned move of the Queens Children’s Psychiatric Center to the Creedmoor campus.

“We were successful in keeping the proposed relocation and closing out of the Senate and Assembly budget resolutions,” Padavan said. “It wasn’t part of the base line budget we passed in August, and I am confident that it won’t be part of any additional spending this year.”

The coalition — brought together by the New York State Public Employees Foundation — wants to prevent the closure or relocation of children’s psychiatric centers throughout the state.

Creedmoor is located on a swath of land in Bellerose stretching from Winchester Boulevard to Commonwealth Boulevard along Hillside Avenue. The Queens Children’s Hospital sits across the street from Creedmoor on Commonwealth Boulevard.

The 350-acre Creedmoor property consists of 75 buildings used to house a wide variety of city and state agencies. The state psychiatric hospital is concentrated in Building No. 40, the largest structure on the campus, and uses five other buildings to house a chapel, its administration and a museum.

Queens Children’s Psychiatric Center treats 84 inpatient and 225 outpatient children with mental health problems from around the borough. The hospital’s community-based system of care teaches children how to cope with their family, school and community.

In recent years, the state has been consolidating its mental health facilities and portioning off sections of the facility as its patient population shrinks. This has put Padavan, who opposes merging hospitals, at odds with Gov. George Pataki, a fellow Republican.

“We have halted the relocation this year. However, the administration may try to go ahead with plans to relocate or close children’s psychiatric centers next year,” Padavan said. “If relocations are part of the budget proposal in January, I can assure you that I will be ready to defeat it.”

Roger Klingman, a spokesman for the Office of Mental Health in Albany, said there is no provision in this year’s budget for a relocation this year. But he said his office still believes that moving the Queens Children’s Psychiatric Center to Creedmoor makes sense.

Klingman has said the new facility will be a “clinically appropriate space.” He said the two patient populations — adult and children — would not be put in the same setting. Citing a study conducted over the last 10 years in a half dozen children hospitals, he said the report found that nothing inappropriate took place between the adult and child patients.

Padavan’s contention is that the proposal is based solely on financial concerns and the savings will be nominal.

He has said QCPC was slated for $17.5 worth of renovations, but the project was nixed in favor of the relocation. He said OMH has proposed an increase in spending due to the $64 million that will be saved because of the relocations around the state.

Klingman said moving the center to Creedmoor would free up $7.7 million a year, which would be used to improve the community mental health programs.

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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