Continuing the fight to keep the Greater Binghamton Health Center

By Jillian Marshall

October 23, 2013 Updated Oct 23, 2013 at 10:23 AM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) For the first time, the public was able to voice their opinions on the Greater Binghamton Health Center closing in front of local state leaders.

The public event was put on by Assembly members Donna Lupardo (D) and Clifford Crouch (R).

Members of the public stood up and voiced their opinions on the Office of Mental Health closing the inpatients psychiatric services at the Greater Binghamton Health Center.

OMH has decided to close psychiatric centers across the state to make 15 Regional Centers of Excellence. The Central New York Region will consist of 20 counties, including Broome and neighboring counties.

GBHC will be merged with two other psychiatric centers and become the Empire Upstate Regional Center of Excellence, forcing adults to travel to Syracuse to inpatient care and shipping children up to Utica for treatment.

Karen Whitbeck, who works in the child and adolescent unit, said having children travel so far away from their families could be detrimental to their treatment.

"If they have to travel two hours away, they're not going to be able to manage the cost number one, number two he (the patient) is going to feel like he's alone and I guess maybe his willingness tell them the next time he needs help will probably change."

Carl Cohen, a Binghamton father of two mentally ill children, agrees with Whitbeck.

"Family involvement in that treatment is essential and it cannot be done from long distance," Cohen said.

There will be a community forum on the closing on the Broome Developmental Center at a later date.

To sign the petition to keep the Greater Binghamton Health Center open, click here.