I-Team: Fighting to save the White Haven Center

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WHITE HAVEN, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Families who have loved ones at the White Haven Center say they are not giving up the fight to keep its doors open.

Tom Kashatus’ adult daughter is a resident of the White Haven Center. It’s the only home she knows and he says she gets great care, but he would have to move her to a community-run center if the state moves ahead with plans to shutter the White Haven Center.

“And I can’t look at it any other way than being optimistic that this is going to end up in a satisfactory… satisfying the community and all,” said Kashatus.

The state announced plans in 2019 to close White Haven Center and another similar facility in Polk County, arguing that their residents will be better served in a community residential setting. 400 employees of the center would also be out of work. Word of the plan caused an uproar from families of the residents.

The state has been gradually phasing out facilities like White Haven, citing better services as well as cost savings to the commonwealth. State lawmakers, including State Rep. Tarah Toohil (R), 116th District, oppose the closing.

“We still are keeping hope alive. They did an excellent job during the pandemic keeping the residents safe. Preventing spread as compared to other areas around the state who had issues,” said Rep. Toohil.

Toohil says the White Haven Center may possibly be used to provide other needed services in the community.

“So this type of facility, there is a lot of land there and the ability for us to have a portion of that facility and have some diversity there in population… that’s something we are still asking the State to do but we haven’t had movement so far,” said Rep. Toohil.

A final date of closure has not been announced, but we were told in 2019 that it would close in about three years. That would mean sometime next year. Eyewitness News reached out to the Governor’s Office for comment but have not yet had a response.

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