Future remains uncertain for Broome County Mental Health Clinic

By Julianne Peixoto

August 21, 2014 Updated Aug 22, 2014 at 11:19 AM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Broome County legislators postponed -- for a second time this summer -- the vote on whether to close the mental health clinic.

"I wouldn't be alive and here if it were not for the Broome County Mental Health clinic," said patient Marilyn Coleman. "In 1976, I was diagnosed bipolar, I have dealt with it for many years."

Legislators voted 8-4 to table the vote on whether to freeze the clinic's closing for two years.

"If there's other ways we can make this work and take care of people that need the help and we can take care of our taxpayers that's what we're gonna do," said legislator Ronald Keibel (R). "The care isn’t going to go away, we may have to find alternative ways to find the care for people."

People in support of keeping the clinic open said there isn't enough room in other facilities, and long wait lists are making it difficult for patients to receive the immediate attention they need.

"I've attempted to get into Family and Children's Society, but I've been waiting four months," said Mary Wall.

Legislators in favor of closing the clinic said since state funding for the facility was cut, it's unnecessary for taxpayers to pick up the slack.

"We have providers of the same services," said legislator Stephan Flagg (R). "This is duplication and I'm not going to raise taxes for duplicate services."

Legislator Jason Garnar (D) drafted the proposal to keep the clinic open for another two years.

"What we're asking for is to have a bare bones mental health clinic," said Garnar, "That can serve people who are on waiting lists and people whose insurance isn't accepted by these other places for treatment, that's all we're asking."

Legislators said they need to wait until the budget process begins to see if there is money available to keep the clinic afloat.

The vote has been tabled to a date uncertain.

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