Fight Continues to Keep White Haven Center Open

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GLEN LYON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) For many of these families..the White Haven Center is the only home their loved ones have ever known.. they fear that if the center does close..their very lives could be in jeopardy..

“Mehalshick: Do you lose sleep over it? Absolutely absolutely. I lose sleep. I think about it day and night.” Tom Kashatus said.

Thomas Kashatus holds back tears as he talks about his 51-year-old daughter Maria who has lived at the White Haven Center since 1980.

“Sometimes it takes it’s toll. It wasn’t too long ago that I just broke down to myself trying to understand what this is all about.”

He and 110 other families have been fighting to keep the White Haven Center open. The state says it wants to close the White Haven Center and the Polk Center in Venango County in western Pennsylvania and transition the residents to private facilities.

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services says it would cost taxpayers millions of dollars to renovate the facilities and that care in private facilities would be just as good as that in state run centers..

But Kashatus and others who have relatives in the centers are not convinced closing would be beneficial to their loved ones.

“There’s people out there in the community that if they had the opportunity to go up and see what White Haven is all about if they were in the situation like my wife and I they want to go there for their child.”

A federal lawsuit will be filed against the Wolf administration this week to keep White Haven Center open. State Senator John Yudichak and other lawmakers in the Northeastern Pennsylvania joined in that fight.

“We believe in this lawsuit and the lawsuit would prevail that these individuals and their families get to make a choice where their loved ones are cared for. We believe the White Haven Center is that place.” Yudichak told us.

Kashatus worried, “If something happens to my wife and I we are pushing our 80’s at this time. What’s going to happen to Maria?..That”s a good question.”

Legislation is also working its way through Harrisburg that would place a five year moratorium on the closure of the White Haven and Polk Centers and create a task force to investigate the decision to close those centers, but Governor Wolf is expected to veto that legislation when it comes to his desk.

GLEN LYON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) Tom Kashatus from Glen Lyon is one of the family members leading the charge to keep the doors of the White Haven Center open.

Tom Kashatus of Glen Lyon discusses his concerns of closing the White Haven Center with reporter Andy Mehalshick.

His 51-year-old daughter Maria has been living at the center for 40 years, along with 110 other people with intellectual and physical challenges.

51-year-old Maria Kashatus has been living at The White Haven Center for 40 years. If the center closes she will need to be moved to a private facility.

The State wants to close it and another Center in Western PA and transition residents into private centers.

Last week lawmakers passed a Senate bill that would prohibit the closure of Polk and White Haven Centers until 2022.

A federal civil rights lawsuit is expected to be filed Tuesday in Harrisburg against Governor Tom Wolf for his decision to close Polk and White Haven Centers.

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