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Queens kids’ psych center not moving to Creedmoor

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The community residents who opposed moving the Queens Children’s Psychiatric Center into the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center can pat themselves on the back for their success in the fight against its relocation.

Gov. George Pataki changed his mind and the Children’s Psychiatric Center will remain where it is.

The proposal to move QCPC onto the Creedmoor campus will not be reintroduced into the 2002 budget by the Office of Mental Health. State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) and state Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Bayside) helped to lead the fight against the proposal.

“We were successful in defeating this ludicrous and dangerous proposal — treating children and adult psychiatric patients in the same facility — last year,” Padavan said, “but we were still concerned it would be included in this year’s executive budget.

“Not only did the Pataki administration realize that this was a bad idea, our efforts resulted in the administration moving forward with previously planned capital improvements at QCPC,” the state senator said.

The push to relocate QCPC onto the Creedmoor campus as a cost-saving measure came at the time plans were being finalized to renovate the facility. Padavan said last year that QCPC was slated for $17.5 million worth of renovations, but the project was vetoed in favor of relocating the hospital.

The renovations will include upgrading safety measures; adding new sprinklers; upgrading the heating, electrical and plumbing systems; renovating classrooms and patient areas; and replacing the roof.

“I am very happy to be a part of the victory,” Weprin said. “Gov. Pataki made a 180-degree turn back to plan 1A, keeping children with children.”

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

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

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.

Faced with a shrinking patient population in recent years, the state has been selling off sections of the facility for use as schools, community organizations and private development.

“This is a great victory for the advocates, parents, professionals and most importantly the children who receive treatment at QCPC,” Padavan said. “Those children will not be moved to the imposing adult facility at the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center.”

He said Building 39, which has housed the QCPC patients, will be razed and the property will be turned over to the new Creedmoor schools campus for athletic fields.

“Sometimes community pressure works,” Weprin said. “This was a great victory for the community, the children and the parents.”

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

Updated 7:01 pm, October 10, 2011
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