HARRISBURG – On Tuesday, PA House Health Committee Chairman Kathy Rapp (R-Warren/Crawford/Forest) made the most of her final voting meeting in 2019 by advancing legislation which would institute a moratorium on Gov. Tom Wolf’s mandated closures of the Polk and White Haven State Centers (Senate Bill 906).
“Every time an established treatment facility such as Polk and White Haven is shut down, it greatly increases the possibility that our most vulnerable citizens with intellectual disabilities will wind up unnecessarily incarcerated, unfairly exploited or otherwise victimized in mainstream society,” said Rapp.
On Nov. 18, the Senate passed the moratorium legislation with a strong bipartisan vote of 40-9.
Wolf initially called for the closures of Polk (Venango County) and White Haven (Luzerne County) State Centers in August 2019, which generated immediate concern for residents from their families, the community and the caregivers who serve them. Primarily, the fear is without these centers there are not sufficient resources in place to provide the level of care needed.
The closures would also result in the loss of nearly 1,200 jobs.
To further emphasize the need for the Polk State Center to remain open, Rapp shared a portion of a letter submitted by Dr. James R. Latronica, Clarion Hospital Family Medicine Residency, to the PA Department of Human Services:
“As it currently stands, individuals at Polk receive comprehensive medical, psychological and social care, under the watchful eye of numerous specialists, medical professionals and staff members. Some of the residents require 24-hour monitoring for their safety. Some of the residents have lived at Polk for decades and literally know no other home.”
Senate Bill 906
now moves to the full House for consideration.
Representative Kathy Rapp
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Ty McCauslin