– After attending Thursday’s public hearing regarding White Haven Center (WHC) conducted by the Department of Human Services (DHS), Reps. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne) and Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) announced they are working with the chairman of the House Human Services Committee, Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks), to hold an urgent meeting regarding the pending closure of the facility for the physically and mentally challenged.
“We vow to fight this closure plan,” said the two lawmakers. “It is concerning that this is no longer a proposal. Instead, the governor is moving forward with closure procedures. We are hopeful that he will hear the cries of those who testified at the hearing and reverse this decision.”
At the start of the hearing, Deputy DHS Secretary Kristin Ahrens announced that the decision to close the center was final and the testimony gathered would help in the transition of its 112 residents to community-based settings. She said the closure would take three years to complete.
Toohil added, “I am deeply concerned by the testimony we heard about the 80% mortality rate when residents were evicted from the Hamburg state center. The death of one of our WHC residents, due to forced removal, will be one death too many. The prospect of this is very real.
“Many who testified said it best when they spoke of how living at WHC is the individual life decision for their family member. There are deeply disturbing cases of neglect, abuse and terrible impacts on individuals who are not adequately cared for in the community setting. I do believe that if Pennsylvania continues to execute these closures, like in other states, they will be reopening WHC and other centers within a decade,” she said.
Representative Tarah Toohil
116th Legislative District
Representative Doyle Heffley
122nd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Andy Briggs