Heavy machinery dug into the first of 19 buildings to be torn down during the first phase of demolition at the former Kings Park Psychiatric Hospital Monday, leaving a former patient turned filmmaker, wondering if enough is being done to commemorate what has happened there.
Lucy Winer was one of a dozen or so people who came out to witness the first official tearing down of one of the many buildings still standing on the property. Just a few days before it all began, Patch spoke with her as she shared her feelings on what was happening.
“What surprised me the most, if I had thought about it, I thought I would be quite happy, but that is not my reaction at all,” said Winer.
Winer was admitted to KPPC in 1967 at the age of 17 after a series of failed suicide attempts. Thirty years later Winer created the film, which documented her time at the hospital and takes a look at the state of mental health care today.
"From a community standpoint, I think it is great that efforts are being made to make the property more useful," said Winer. "But what disturbs me is that nothing significant is being done to commemorate or educate about what happened there and I think the history warrants that. It is almost like it is being erased."
Winer wrote a letter, published in Sunday's New York Times. Instead of the joy she thought she might feel watching the first structure crumble, she said she feels grief, concerned that people with mental illness still do not get the help that they need.
"I fear that if we fail to learn from the past, we will go on to repeat many of the same mistakes," said Winer in her letter.
How do you feel? Do you share some of Winer's sentiments?
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