The Broome County budget is back in the hands of County Executive Debbie Preston for her final signature. The legislature’s main change to Preston’s budget was the reinstatement of a position in the district attorney’s office. But, at the final hearing last night, the county legislature and Preston heard an earful about the closing of Broome County’s mental health clinic.
“I’ve had discussion after discussion with health care professionals who work for example at UHS who have said they are very, very worried about the future of mental health services and that they can’t possibly meet the need,” said Karen Carpenter of the Save the Clinic Coalition.
The purpose of the public hearing was for comments on budget amendments proposed by the legislature. The closure wasn’t an amendment. It was proposed in Preston’s original budget and the clinic remains closed in the final version. But that’s all speakers last night wanted to talk about.
The chairman of the legislature, Jerry Marinich, disagrees with Carpenter and says he’s been told that care will continue even without the clinic.
“Some of the case workers are leaving, going to different agencies and they’re taking their patients with them. They’re going with them to the different agencies. So it’s not as if they’re not going to be seen at the different agencies, if they so choose to go,” said Marinich.
The county will continue to have a mental health department, but no clinic and most of the jobs at the clinic will be cut.