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Padavan opposes move of kids’ psychiatric unit

State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) blasted the state Office of Mental Health's plan to move the Queens Children's Psychiatric Center onto the grounds of the campus of the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, an adult facility.

Creedmoor is located on a large 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.

"There are enormous problems with treating mentally ill children in close proximity to adults," Padavan said. "Now QCPC has the look and feel of a school and provides a safe and nurturing environment in which to treat these young people."

He said moving QCPC's patients to the main Creedmoor building would drastically change the environment and setting that has allowed the center's children to thrive.

"I am extremely concerned about merging the child population with the adult psychiatric population," said state Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Bayside). "It is a troubling mix."

The relocation of QCPC to the Creedmoor campus is viewed as a cost-saving measure and has put Padavan at odds with the state's Republicans. The Republicans have been supportive of GOP Gov. George Pataki's plan to consolidate several state hospitals.

"Any dubious cost benefit would be nominal - if existent," Padavan said. "While I applaud and recognize that additional resources are need for the Office of Mental Health, tying these resources to the relocation and consolidation - at the expense of the quality of treatment given and received - is absolutely inexcusable."

Padavan said the 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 relocation.

Weprin said with the efforts to reform the Rockefeller drugs laws - Pataki recently unveiled a plan that would cut the sentences for many drug offenses - the space used by moving QCPC into Creedmoor could be used for people who were convicted under the laws and need psychiatric help or drug treatment. He said as more adult space becomes necessary, filling up Creedmoor with children could cause financial problems in the future.

"No one is more committed to protecting New York children then we are," said Roger Klingman, a spokesman for the Office of Mental Health.

"The plan would provide stringent precautionary measures and safeguards to insure that every child will always be safe and secure," he said. "Similar plans with a strong emphasis on protecting children have worked successfully at other facilities."

Klingman said once the facility is closed, it will be placed on a list for alternate uses and eventually sold by the New York Economic Development Corporation. The EDC sold a section the Creedmoor campus in 2000.

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.

In recent years the state has been portioning off sections of the facility as its patient population shrinks.

"I recognize the need for increased spending and the need to give personnel the cost-of-living adjustments they deserve, but to provide it at the expense of our children is just not the way to go," said former QCPC Director Dr. Gloria Faretra.

"Relocating the QCPC to Creedmoor is anti-therapeutic, she said. " Keeping these facilities separate is essential to maintaining a high level of treatment."

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