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Lisa Baker

10/27/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/27/2021 13:53

Effort to Halt Closure of Polk and White Haven State Centers Continues with Committee Passage of Closure Moratorium

Harrisburg -The ongoing effort to halt the closure of the Polk State Center and White Haven State Center advanced today with Senate committee passage of legislation sponsored by Senator Scott Hutchinson (R-21), Senator John Yudichak (I-14), Senator Michele Brooks (R-50) and Senator Lisa Baker (R-20).

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed Senate Bill 924, which would prevent closure of those centers for a minimum of five years and create the Task Force on the Closure of State Facilities to analyze and manage the closure of any state center.

"The families of Polk and White Haven residents deserve to have a voice and a choice in the care of their loved ones. For many residents, Polk and White Haven are the only homes they have ever known, and they and their families want to remain there, to avoid the chaos and confusion of a forced move that may fail to provide the level of care needed for their loved ones to live the fullest life possible. The home for our most fragile and medically complex Pennsylvanians should be decided by loving parents, siblings and families, not by the government," said Senator Michele Brooks, Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

"Since the shocking announcement that these two facilities would close, local residents and officials have not been shown evidence that this was a fair process," Senator Lisa Baker said. "It certainly did not represent inclusionary decision making. Nor have they been convinced there is a better future for the residents, families, workers, or host communities. This failure on the part of the Wolf administration increases the necessity for moratorium legislation."

"Especially in light of the COVID pandemic, it is critical that we stop the announced closure of Polk and reassess the Wolf Administration's half-baked decision to move these fragile individuals out of the only home they have ever known, where they currently receive comprehensive and loving care," Senator Scott Hutchinson said.

"Polk and White Haven centers are loving homes operated by caring staff who consider themselves family to the residents. Families have selected these facilities to care for their loved ones for exactly this reason," Senator John Yudichak said. "I have first-hand experience with this, given my mother worked at White Haven Center for many years. Moving residents to other facilities could be traumatic, especially for those who have severe disabilities. Pennsylvania residents deserve to have a choice and this legislation brings stakeholders to the table so we can assist and defend one of our state's most vulnerable populations."

The senators introduced similar legislation in the previous legislative session. The measure was approved by the General Assembly but vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf.

CONTACTS:

(Sen. Hutchinson) Justin Leventry [email protected] (717) 787-9684

(Sen. Yudichak) Scot Pitzer: [email protected] (717) 705-7734

(Sen. Baker) Kate Flessner [email protected] (717) 787-7428

(Sen. Brooks) Diane McNaughton [email protected] (717) 787-1322