Following failed attempt, legislators still working to save clinic

By Julianne Peixoto

June 12, 2014 Updated Jun 12, 2014 at 11:16 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Legislation that would keep the Broome County Mental Health Clinic open for another two years will be voted on in July.

The Health and Human Services Committee proposed a bill Wednesday night that would keep the clinic open until 2016.

It was defeated by a 3-2 committee vote.

Had the bill been approved, it would have been voted on next week by the full legislature, instead of next month.

Legislator Jason Garnar told Action News Wednesday night's vote followed political lines -- the bill was voted down by three Republican legislators and supported by two the Democrats on the committee.

"Mental health services should not be a Republican or a Democratic issue," said Garnar. "Public safety is not a Republican or a Democratic issue, it's a community issue."

Legislator Tony Fiala was on the committee, and he disagrees with the opposition's argument that patients of the clinic could go elsewhere for treatment.

"You're really just going 'OK it's somebody else's problem somewhere else.' There's no guarantee that Family and Children's and UHS and Lourdes are gonna take all these people," said Fiala. "There are people who are gonna' fall through the cracks. Let's face it. It's gonna' happen."

Fiala also said if patients receive aid at other facilities, they would lose all of the consistency and normalcy they had known throughout their treatment thus far.

"A few people I spoke with said that, 'I need that consistency, I need my same councilor, I need my same day to day routine to help me get better,'" said Fiala.

Broome County Deputy Executive John Bernardo says the clinic would not close until all patients have an alternative provider.

Fiala said the support from the public at Wednesday night's meeting helped put a face to the problem with shutting down the clinic.

He is encouraging people to continue to voice their opinions.

"There were quite a bit of angry people there yesterday [Tuesday evening] and I hope they continue to voice their concerns and support not to close this institution that we rely on so much."

A date for the closure has not yet been set.