In a hearing that lasted more than three hours, the state’s top attorneys were heard about cracks in the mental health system.
BUFFALO, NY – The true story from the mouth of a family who had to endure the loss of a loved one to mental illness.
Attorney General Letitia James heard about the challenges people have experienced and what they believe are the solutions.
Find a system and hear what people think about solutions. The entire statewide mental health system is being investigated.
Brendan Orr was one of many speakers at the hearing. He lost his sister Jennifer Orr to suicide last November.
“Often, people who suffer from mental illness are also dealing with some form of addiction due to mental illness. They say there’s nothing you can do about it,” he said.
AG James heard complaints about the Erie County Medical Center, noting that it was “understaffed and overcrowded, putting both patients and nurses at risk.”
Orr said, “The fact of the matter is what Erie County has. ECMC and BryLin have less than 50 beds. ECMC doesn’t have very many either. It’s not a ton for a metro area of this size. A story born from those places.”
“The CPEP program should not act as a sole focus or be solely responsible for the larger system,” says Dr. Victoria Brooks, director of the Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP).
When the Attorney General asked about ECMC’s concerns, Brooks said it does not serve people battling alcoholism, drug addiction or mental illness.The community looks to CPEP and ECMC as a kind of leader and focal point for conversations about what can be done to fix the community, but that’s the challenge. ”
Dr. Kenyani Davis of the Community Health Center in Buffalo gave a candid presentation.
Pointing out the divide, she said, “Don’t think that access and connectivity are the same thing. Access is building and they will come. But if people don’t feel connected when they walk in, That’s the important thing. We have a nice lobby.”