Unions Lobby, But State Goes Forward With Plan To Close KingsboroPsychiatric Center
Advocates Say Service Is ‘Below Par’
By Lore Croghan
<http://www.nydailynews.com/authors?author=Lore%20Croghan> / New York
Daily News February 3, 2012
It’s official: Despite unions’ campaigns to stop it, the state is moving
forward with the closing of Kingsboro Psychiatric Center, which a state
advisory panel recommended.
“What about the poor, who are in need in Brooklyn?” said Darcy Wells
<http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Darcy+Wells> , New York State Public
Employees Federation spokeswoman. “This is about access to those most in
need. They are basically abandoning these people.”
The state Office of Mental Health issued a public notice Tuesday of
Kingsboro’s closing. The Flatbush hospital will be consolidated with
South Beach Pyschiatric Center on Staten Island, it indicates.
But one advocacy group supports Kingsboro’s closing.
“The quality of service is below par, and the length of stay is too
long,” said Wendy Brennan
<http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Wendy+Brennan> , executive director
of the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ metro New York chapter.
“There is a lack of a recovery-oriented culture at Kingsboro.”
The median stay for patients is 183 days, compared with 79 days
statewide. A Daily News report last year spotlighted patient violence
and charges of two deaths due to delays in treatments.
The Brooklyn Health Systems Redesign Work Group, convened last year to
study Brooklyn’s financially strapped hospitals, recommended the
elimination of Kingsboro’s in-patient hospital services.
Kingsboro is the only facility in Brooklyn that handles long-term
hospitalization for the mentally ill. The closing notice says
Kingsboro’s and South Beach’s total number of beds will be reduced.
Union members have heard that just 150 beds will be added to South
Beach, though Kingsboro’s 290 beds are mostly full, Wells said.
Patients from Central Brooklyn may refuse to go to the Staten Island
hospital – a two-and-a-half hour trek by public transportation – and
won’t get treatment they need, she added.
The unions were blindsided by the notice, which state law requires 60
days in advance of closings of hospitals the mental health agency
The Public Employees Federation – which represents doctors, nurses,
technicians and social workers at the 655-employee Clarkson Ave.
facility – was busy lobbying Brooklyn’s state Senators and Assembly
members prior to the closing announcement. Last week, 50 union members
took buses to Albany to carry on the campaign. The union bought ads in
local Brooklyn papers.
“Our concern is hundreds of people could be out of work,” Wells said.
The Civil Service Employees Association, which reps other Kingsboro
workers, had been running a Facebook letter-writing campaign to
legislators, staging big demonstrations and lobbying the Brooklyn
“This closing is something that should be decided by the Legislature,”
civil service union spokesman David Galarza
<http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/David+Galarza> said. “It seems Gov.
Cuomo <http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Andrew+Cuomo> is doing it by
The union plans to stage a rally later this month to protest Kingsboro’s
closing outside panel chairman Stephen Berger
<http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Stephen+Berger> ‘s Manhattan
investment banking office.
Galarza also defended workers’ efforts to improve care at the facility.
“We have a professional workforce there trained to do a difficult job,”
he said. “It is a dangerous job.”