Senators Call for Probe of DHS Decision to Close State Centers

| October 15, 2019

HARRISBURG, Pa. (EYT) – A group of Pennsylvania Senators, including Scott Hutchinson, has called on state Inspector General Bruce Beemer to investigate the process that led to the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) announced plans to close the Polk State Center and the White Haven State Center.

Senators Scott Hutchinson (R-21st District), Michele Brooks (R-50th District), Lisa Baker (R-20th District) and John Yudichak (D-14th District) sent a letter to Inspector General Beemer citing a number of troubling issues that led them to question the actions taken by DHS.

The Senators questioned the lack of notification provided to residents of the Centers and their families, significant internal communication problems and potential conflict of interest issues in their letter to the Inspector General.

“Subsequent to the announcement, the Department held two perfunctory public hearings, as required by Act 3 of 1999, and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, the standing oversight committee, held a public hearing. These hearings have only raised more questions about the integrity of the decision making process at the Department,” the letter states.

“One concern in particular is the potential conflict of interest between the Department’s Director of the Bureau of State Operated Facilities, who was directly involved in the decision to close Polk and White Haven and the Selinsgrove State Center Director, one of two centers to remain open. During the Senate hearing, the Deputy Secretary of the Office of Developmental programs stated that the relationship was disclosed to her, but she could not confirm if that relationship was disclosed to the Office of General Counsel or if a ruling was made as to whether the Director of the Bureau of State Operated Facilities should recuse himself from deliberations on this matter.”

The letter also points out the potentially dire consequences of the closure.

“The Department’s decision to close both Polk and White Have State Centers could have life-or-death consequences for the residents who reside there. Due to the seriousness of the issue we believe a full Investigation of the Department’s deliberations and decision-making process is warranted,” it states.

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