We, as an organization, were blindsided by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ short-sighted decision to close both the Polk Center and the White Haven Center. Both of these intermediate care facilities provide round-the-clock care for residents with intellectual disabilities. They ensure that residents have 24-hour access to supportive living, medical care, and developmental activities, and, more importantly, ensure that residents have a safe, comfortable home. These centers also provide an option to families whose loved ones may be best-supported in a residential setting, rather than a community-based setting. After all, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to healthcare and human services.
One of many unions represented in these State Centers, SEIU Local 668 has members that are dedicated caregivers at both the White Haven and Polk State Centers–they are trained and certified caregivers who create and develop individualized support plans and goals for every resident, ensuring that they continue to learn and grow.
“These centers are more than residential homes for Pennsylvanians with intellectual disabilities–they are communities of safety, comfort, and learning. This is an ill-informed decision that will have negative repercussions for both workers and residents of White Haven and Polk Center,” said Steve Catanese, President of SEIU Local 668.
Often, residents will spend years at these facilities, forming close bonds with their fellow residents as well as their daily caregivers. These bonds are vital to residents attaining more positive healthcare outcomes, as well as leading active, happy lives.
SEIU 668 stands with our members at Polk Center and White Haven. We ask that the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services reverse their decision and instead keep these facilities open. We also ask the public to contact the Department and demand that they keep these centers open. Comments can be sent directly to the DHS via phone at (800) 692-7462 or through their website at https://appengine.egov.com/apps/pa/dhs/feedbackform.