Harrisburg, September 24, 2019:  State Senator John Yudichak (D – Luzerne/Carbon) and Senator Lisa Baker (R – Luzerne) provided the following written testimony at the Senate Health and Human Services Committee hearing today:

Good Morning. We want to thank Chairman Brooks and Chairman Haywood for convening this hearing before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on the closure of White Haven Center in Luzerne County and Polk State Center in Venango County. Senator Baker and I would like to offer the following written testimony specific to White Haven Center for your consideration.

The Department of Human Services announced closure plans to transition the people that reside at White Haven Center and Polk State Center to community-based care over the course of the next three years.  

Ironically, DHS has publicly stated the closure will take as long as necessary to ensure that each person living at the centers has a home of “their choosing.” However, individuals with intellectual disabilities, and the families that love them, will not be able to choose the home of White Haven Center or Polk State Center where they have lived for most of their lives.

For the 111 people that live at White Haven Center, the center is their community. It is their home. It is their choice. The employees that lovingly care for the people at White Haven Center are not employees – they are extended members of their family. These dedicated care professionals have made it a home for the people who reside at White Haven Center. 

For families with loved ones at the Center, it is also their community. A community where they can celebrate personal milestones, and find comfort in the loving, compassionate care they know will always be provided to loved ones.

The Borough of White Haven, a small community of 1,200 residents, is also a community to those who live at White Haven Center.  People who live at White Haven Center participate in community events, organizations, meetings and parades — they are citizens of White Haven Borough.

The closure of White Haven Center will effectively take away their community and deny these citizens of White Haven, these people with intellectual disabilities, the right to choose their own home. 

The 111 residents at White Haven Center, and the families that love them, have chosen White Haven Center as their home.

Why would the Department of Human Services take away that choice from people with intellectual disabilities? 

The Department of Human Services should pause its closure decision and gather more legislative input from this hearing process on the staggering negative impact their decision will have on people with intellectual disabilities, their loving families, the employees who care for them, and the communities they call home.

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Carly Simpson
Communications Director
Senator John Yudichak
(717) 787-7105
carly.simpson@pasenate.com