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At hearing on mental health in Buffalo, NYS Attorney General says the system will be 'examined'

A hearing that lasted over 3 hours allowed the state's top lawyer to hear about cracks in the mental health system.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The true stories from the mouths of families have had to endure the loss of loved ones due to mental illness. They were spotlighted during a public hearing in Buffalo put on by the New York State General.

Attorney General Letitia James heard about the challenges people experienced and what they believe are the solutions.

Find in the system and hear what people think are the solutions. The entire mental health system across the state is being examined.

Brendan Orr was one of the many speakers at the hearing. He lost his sister, Jennifer Orr, to suicide last November.

"People who suffer from mental illness in many cases also deal with some form of addiction due to mental illness. The fact of the matter is to be told there is nothing we can do, because threats to her life may have been induced by alcohol," he said.

AG James heard complaints about Erie County Medical Center and noted they are "understaffed and overcrowded, putting both patients and nurses in harm's way."

Orr said "the fact of the matter is, what do we have in Erie County? ECMC and BryLin is less than 50 beds. ECMC doesn't have very many either, not a ton for a metro area of this size, and the horror stories that come out of those places."

Dr. Victoria Brooks, Director of the Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP), said "our CPEP program should not serve as the sole focus or independently bear the onus of responsibility for our larger system."

When questioned by the state attorney general about concerns that ECMC doesn't provide services for people srtuggling with alcoholism, drug addiction and mental illness, Dr. Brooks said "in as much as the community looks to CPEP and ECMC as kind of a leader and center of the conversation on what can we do to fix the community, but that's the challenge." 

Dr. Kenyani Davis of the Community Health Center of Buffalo was candid in her presentation.

She pointed to disparities and noted "access versus  connectivity,  do not think they are the same. Access is a build a building and they will come, but if the people don't feel connected when they go in what is the point., you have a beautiful lobby."

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