Mullery introduces bill to put moratorium on closing White Haven, Polk centers

HARRISBURG, Oct. 3 – A bill which would put a moratorium on closing the White Haven and Polk state centers was introduced today by State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Luzerne.

“From day one of the governor’s decision to close these facilities I have been fighting for the residents, their families, and the hundreds of caregivers who stand to lose their jobs,” Mullery said. “Many of these residents require 24/7 care and closing these facilities would create unnecessary and devastating emotional and financial duress.”

House Bill 1918 would enact a moratorium on the closing of both White Haven and Polk state centers until Pennsylvania is better prepared to respond to the impending fallout. It has bipartisan support with co-prime sponsors Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-Luzerne, and Rep. R. Lee James, R-Venango/Butler.

The residents of these centers have been receiving outstanding care for many years from dedicated employees who treat them like family. Their lives have now been turned upside down by the governor’s heartbreaking decision,” Toohil said. “When the closure announcement was made, all of us pledged to do everything within our power to help. House Bill 1918 is another step in that process.”

“I am committed to giving a voice to these residents and their families,” James said. “Make no mistake about it, these are folks who require round-the-clock care and will not survive in community homes.”  

Hearings were held regarding the Department of Human Services’ proposed closure of the centers to hear testimony from interested parties. Mullery took the lead in those proceedings.

The recent hearing conducted by the Senate Human Services Committee revealed that the decision to close these facilities was made without any stakeholder input,” Mullery said. “Moreover, Secretary Miller was unable to provide adequate responses to the simplest of questions posed by state lawmakers.  

“The hearing established one uncontroverted fact. This decision was not properly vetted, well-planned or well-executed.  As such, the decision to uproot our most vulnerable constituents should be reversed and future discussion should be completely transparent,” Mullery said.