The Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center announced they’d be closing facilities almost one year ago. And since then, we’ve brought you the details every step of the way.
There were protests, there were rallies, there were petitions to the governor. Then it became a reality; Job cuts, some patients sent to Syracuse, some released on the streets, and the most recent, the Commissioner responsible for the closing resigns.
The scars of the psych center still remain with many community members. We visited with employees, area officials, reporter Rachel Polansky was even kicked off the psych center grounds trying to uncover what’s been done with your money. And to this day, no one has the answers. But tonight, we speak with some people who say they personally feel the aftermath of this closing every day.
“And the government isn’t gonna see – people like me, we do go on, we live a life,” says Susan Koslosky in February 2012 at a community meeting prior to the closing.
That was 10 months ago when the state announced the Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center would be closing. Today former patient Susan Koslosky says her deepest fears have become reality.
“I see friends of mine that have been released that were not ready to be released. And they just wander. And it’s, they’re lonely. They don’t know where they’re going,” says Susan.
Susan was admitted to the psych ward in 1989, when she had a nervous breakdown. She says when she hit rock bottom, the psych center was there.
“Not just your psychiatrists, but your nurses, your other clinical practitioners that were there; The Mohawk Valley Psych Center did save my life,” says Susan.
But she fears other patients affected by the closing may not be as fortunate as she.
“A lot of them are homeless or living in boarding homes that I wouldn’t.. Excuse me.. Put my animal in,” says Susan.
She says the “lucky” ones were sent to Hutchings in Syracuse, but they may not be so lucky.
“They’re treated just like a number, not treated like human beings, so they’ve lost all their friends, all their family, all type of contact and it’s hopeless for them because they feel like everybody’s abandoned them,” says Susan.
In addition to the tragic impact on patients, Susan says these issues impact the entire community.
“If they can’t get food, they’re gonna steal, they’re gonna rob people, they’re gonna rob homes, break into cars, and as a result of it they’re winding up in jail because that’s a facility that they’re use to, that’s all they know,” says Susan.
Some residents say Susan’s predictions have already become their reality.
“I live scared, all the time, always looking out my window. He’s just there, it’s something you can’t get rid of, there’s no getting rid of him,” says anonymous harassment victim.
These two women ask to remain anonymous for their protection but they say they’ve been being harassed by a mentally ill neighbor for 2 years.
“Several times threatening to kill my daughter who lives in the house, cut my throat as I got my morning paper, to cut my throat and burn my house down. So I live with the assumption that someone as far as 200 feet away from me is going to some night, burn my house down,” says anonymous harassment victim.
Although the police have made over 20 house-calls, sadly there’s not much they can do based on threats alone. 1 of the women has an order of protection but she says at the end of the day, it’s just a piece of paper.
“Even with the order of protection, he walked up to me and just said to me, ‘So you think you’re better than me?’ And as I turned around, they’re he stood. And let me tell you, you wanna talk about a mild heart attack,” says anonymous harassment victim.
“This file that we’re looking at here contains all of the information and correspondence that we have made with the local police chief, the former mayor and anybody who could try to help us,” says another anonymous harassment victim.
“He’s going to hurt somebody and there’s just a few ladies in the neighborhood and I don’t know which one,” says anonymous harassment victim.
The Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center is gone, but as you can see, it’s certainly not forgotten.
And while they can lock their doors on the inside, the problems aren’t going away on the outside.
Unfortunately it seems this story is far from over.