State Bureau Says No Current Plans to Close Polk Center

HARRISBURG, Pa. (EYT) – Officials at the Pennsylvania Bureau of State Operated Facilities say its business as usual despite looming legislation that calls for the closing of Polk State Center and three other state hospitals.

Kevin Dressler, the Director of the Bureau, said Monday that his department has no active plan for the center’s closing.

“We haven’t analyzed the bill (H.B. 1560) because there is no active plan to close Polk Center,” Dressler said. “But, there has been a long-standing trend in moving people from treatment in state-owned facilities to community-based living arrangements.”

Pennsylvania House Bill 1650, introduced by State Representative Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre, Mifflin) earlier this year, would allow for the closure of four state hospitals that serve individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Dressler said Pennsylvania currently houses just 855 people in state-run facilities while 53,000 are treated in community-based operations.

Pennsylvania has closed ten state hospitals since 1955. Since then, the average daily number of patients has fallen from 41,500 to the aforementioned number.

Dressler didn’t know if the state’s current budget problems played a role in the drafting of the bill.

Dressler said his department would be committed to helping displaced workers find other jobs if any of the state hospitals closed.

If legislation is successful, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services will prepare a plan for not only the closure of the facilities but also the transition of those currently receiving care to a home and community-based support system.

The plan includes the following:

– A certified independent appraisal of each state facility property.

– A report on data of the state employees employed at each state facility, both full time and part-time, including the total number of employees, the total wages paid, the total benefits paid, and the organizational flow chart for the employees working at each State facility.

– A detailed report of the services provided at each state facility by contracted third-party vendors.

– An inventory of assets located at and improvements to each state facility.

– A report of all electric, utility, water, landscaping, snow removal, and maintenance costs of each state facility.

– Geospatial images of each state facility.

– A detailed description of the existence, ownership rights, and appraised value of any mineral rights on the state facility property.

– A historical report of the institutional property, including the date it was acquired or constructed, the dates of any improvements thereon, any changes in property records such as subdivision of the property, historical employment or complement levels, and historical data.

A public comment period will be open until September 1, 2018, for the purpose of soliciting comments regarding the draft of the plan.

A series of public hearings will be held during this period.

At least one public hearing will be held in close vicinity to each state facility.

The hearings will allow for testimony from individuals with intellectual disabilities who reside at the state facility, family members of patients who live at the facilities, employees, contracted vendors, home and community-based support system providers in the immediate geographic area of the state facility, elected officials, and community leaders.

The Department of Human Services will also establish a hotline for inquiries regarding the provisions of the act.

Additionally, the bill requires the formation of an advisory committee to assist the Department of Human Services with the transition.

House Bill 1650 would also shut down White Haven State Center in Luzerne County; Selinsgrove State Center in Snyder County; and Ebensburg State Center in Cambria County.

A complete copy of the bill can be accessed here.


House Bill Calls for Closure of Polk Center, Other State Facilities

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