Public hearings were held tonight on plans to close the White Haven state center for intellectually disabled people. Well over 200 people showed up to the hearing to express their disappointment and it was heated at times.
People came out in droves with green shirts supporting the 112 intellectually disabled patients who will have to leave White Haven. People with family members in the White Haven center said the care they receive is second to none, and the state is failing the people who need them most.
"All of us pay taxes and allocating services for human beings who cannot care for themselves should be top priority! Not bottom!" one woman shouted.
Most of the people who spoke at the podium tonight were outraged. That woman's sister has been with the White Haven center most of her life, and says she is treated by employees who genuinely love their job.
She yelled, "Geisinger medical staff mentions that every patient they receive from White Haven center has never has a bed sore!"
The White Haven Center is only one of four state-run independent care facilities. A state employee tells the crowd they are moving to community and group home care for people with disabilities, but a woman who works in that industry says it's not as good as it's made out to be.
She sauid, "You're putting these people into an already overburdened, over worked, overly micro-managed system that you've created."
Few people came to the podium to agree with the decision, and when they did most of the crowd turned their backs. One man says White Haven is one of the best facilities of it's kind in the country, and other states are starting to bring them back.
He said, "I fail to understand why with a facility as well-maintained as White Haven center and with so many that need placing you have a closed door policy. They have discovered the most cost effective way for good care are centers such as ours. Some states are now going through the expanse of reopening them!"
A deputy treasurer from the Department of Human Services said all 112 patients in White Haven will be placed in facilities of the family's choice.
"No resident will leave this center without a destination of their choosing and without a fully developed plan to meet all of their physical, emotional, medical support needs." she said.
The announcement to close the facility happened on August 14th, and the deputy treasurer says it will be about 36 months until the centers' doors are closed for good.