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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: October 4, 2019 01:43 PM
From: Senator John T. Yudichak and Sen. Lisa Baker, Sen. Michele Brooks, Sen. Scott E. Hutchinson
To: All Senate members
Subject: Moratorium on Closing the Polk and White Haven State Centers
We plan to introduce legislation to institute a moratorium on the scheduled closing of the Polk and White Haven State Centers.

Fear of the unknown can be deeply debilitating and is a feeling we have all experienced.

Today, hundreds of families across this Commonwealth are grappling with that fear as they face the prospect of their loved one being forced from the place they have called home for a large portion of their life. For others, they are struggling to find an appropriate alternative setting, if possible, that will match the immense needs of their family members before time runs out. It is unfortunate that the Department of Human Services has placed this burden on these families. It is unconscionable that this closure decision would be made without first discussing it with the impacted family members and residents, and without first ensuring that adequate capacity exists within a reasonable distance for these individuals and their families.

We support the integration of those living with intellectual disabilities into the community, where they may have the opportunity to thrive and become more independent. But for the residents of the Polk and White Haven State Centers, this pathway simply may not be their best option. Many of these individuals require 24/7 attention and extensive medical care morning and night. Closing these facilities has the potential to place residents at risk and force families to make excruciatingly difficult emotional and financial decisions for the very individuals we have vowed to protect.

For some of these residents, the closures and forced exits could be incredibly damaging and traumatic. Stability is essential for this population, and moving them, potentially hours away from their loved ones, is not acceptable. Before we uproot the lives of these vulnerable Pennsylvanians, we must truly understand the impact of this decision on the remaining time they have. That is why we are taking swift action to introduce legislation that would enact a moratorium on the closing of these facilities until we, as a state, are better prepared to respond to the impending result.

Please join us in supporting this legislation and this critical decision to give the residents of Polk and White Haven and their families more time. Should you have any questions, please contact Sen. Yudichak’s office at (717) 787-7105.

Introduced as SB906