Polk and White Haven – PA Hearings

How did we come to this decision and we didn’t ask the residents or the families – and they are first”  Senator Brooks

Find out more information regarding the importance of listening to the residents, their families, guardians, care givers, community members and legislators.  There are many quality testimonies which provide a variety of different aspect of the importance of these communities.

Public hearing on the Closures of the Polk and White Haven State Centers

PA Senate Helath and Human Services Committee

A Pennsylvania Senate Health and Human Services Committee held a public hearing to address the issues of civil rights violations imposed on individuals and their families who are residents of Polk and White Haven Centers.

Thank you to the members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee for holding this meeting.  Our voices are being heard and we appreciate the understanding and questioning for accountability and transparency from the Department regarding the process they took in their decision to evict people from their homes.

“Real life matters”  Senator Brooks

Teresa Miller, Secretary, Department of Human Services

“We’re not going to rush this process, we’re going to do it right”

I suppose this could be evidenced by how they handled the problems from Blossom:

Tragic abandonment of residents in Blossom

“This is beyond tragic. This man did not have to die, ” said Kathy Sykes, former director of intellectual disability services in Philadelphia. “This is a colossal failure of responsibility to provide basic care and supervision, a colossal systemic failure to manage a transition, a breach of trust for those who were promised their sons and daughters would be cared for, let alone have an everyday life.”

Sherry Landis, CEO, The Arc of PA testified in favor of closure of two of the 4 state Intermediate Care Facilities (ICFs).  If people’s lives were not at stake, some of her comments and inconsistent attempts to answer questions could be comical.

When questioned how the non-profit that advocates for civil rights for folks can endorse saying all centers should be closed and hence taking away the civil rights of individuals and families who’ve made a decision that this is the best option for them, Ms. Landis answered that it has always been the mission of the Arc of PA to ensure the families and the individuals are included in the community.

“It has nothing to do with being a non-profit but it has everything to do with the people that are families and members of who we represent.  This is their desire, it’s not my desire Senator, it’s their desire ”

“They can’t be isolated if they are in a neighborhood”

Sherry Landis, CEO, The Arc of PA

Clearly, The Arc of PA does not represent the residents of Polk and White Haven Centers since it is not their desire to move – this is an action that is being imposed on them and violates their civil rights.

5:35.0 – 10:41 Dr. James Latronica

10:53 – 16:08  Celia Feinsten, Exec. Director, Temple Institute on Disabilities

16:20 – 19:50  Sherry Landis, CEO, The Arc of PA

19:59 – 29:14Carl Solano, Attorney, and Former Guardian

29:42 – 37:11 Gregory Smith, MS, President of White Haven Center Board of Trustees, Consultant and Behavioral and Health Care Services

40:10 – 43:37 Rep. James comments and question to doctor regarding healthcare outcomes and the response.

43:50  – 46:32  Senator Hutchinson questioning Sherry Landis, CEO, The Arc of PA

47:05 – 53:11  Senator Street asking question – Mr. Solano answered regarding previous situations with trying to find community homes. Senator Brooks asks follow up to Celia Feinsten and Sherry Landis

53:21 – 55:41  Rep Gerald Mullery questions trauma transfer – Dr. Latronica gives excellent answer

55:50 – 1:05:54 Rep Toohil has questions for panel regarding isolation in private settings –  Sherry Landis gives her response “to be isolated when living in neighborhood is difficult”

When questioned about the under trained staff and high turnover rate – a high rate which would mean the staff are not trained and experienced, Ms. Landis responded:

“under trained staff member?” I can’t answer for the providers – we’re not a provider but I can honestly say a provider is going to do an extremely good job and make sure their staff is trained if they are going to put the lives of their people in their hands? “

Senator Brooks wraps up with concerns regarding mortality rate and cherry picking data.

1:06.50  – 1:17.30 John Hirschauer, Fellow, National Review

1:17.40 – 1:26.30    Susan Jennings – Keeping Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities Safe (KIIDS)

1:26.45 – 1:27.19  Irene McCabe Says “Thank You” – sister of Polk resident

1:27.23  – 1:43.45    Hugh Dwyer, Exec Director, Voice of Reason (VOR)

  • 1:35.35 – 1:37.35- Appendix J for Federal Regulations and Group Homes are left up to the state.

1:43.38 – 1:47.50  Rep James has a question regarding Olmstead Act – answers provided by Hugo Dwyer, Susan Jennings and John Hirschauer

1:48.52 – 1:52.12  Bill Bailey, Psychological Support Specialist – Polk State Center

1:52.13 – 1:55.45  Maria Ferrey, Qualified Intellectual Disability Professional (QIDP),  Residential Services Supervisor, White Haven State Center

1:55.55  – 1:59.34  Darrin Spann, Assistant Director, AFSCME Council 13

1:59.42 – 2:01.38  Bill Hill, President AFSCME 2334 White Haven State Center,  impassioned speech about professional skills and community

2:01.50  – 2:04.36 Tammy Luce, Residential Service Aide, Polk State Center, President of AFSCME 1050

2:07.30  – 2:16.55 Randy Seitz, President/CEO Penn-Northwest Developmental Corporation – economic impact in the community if Polk Center closed

2:18.00 – 2:35.17 Teresa Miller, Secretary, Department of Human Services and Kristin Aherns, Deputy Secretary, Office of Developmental Programs

2:35.18 – 2:43.40 –  Senator John Yudichak  – questions Secretary Miller regarding community and closure, the department is taking the choice away from residents

2:46.46 – 2:53.27    Senator Lisa Baker questions the decision making process

2:53.35 – 2:56.55  Rep. R. Lee James – questions Teresa Miller, Secretary on resident choices

2:57.04  – 3:05.53   Rep.  Gerald Mullery – Criticism of decision is well deserved- report is due on November 1 to the Governor but the Secretary knows nothing about it or that data is even being collected.

3:05.54 -3:11.02  Senator Hutchinson questions Teresa Miller

I’m even more dismayed now about how this decision was made than I was when I walked in here.  Who made the decision? Senator Hutchinson

In closing,  do you think that it’s an accurate portrayal to talk about the declining populations at the state centers when admissions have virtually closed down?

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