Families Vow to Fight to keep White Haven Center open

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(WBRE/WYOU-TV) Families who have loved ones at the White Haven Center met Monday to talk about the center closing.  Family members walked out of the meeting halfway through.   

The state announced the decision to close the center last week.

   Also at the meeting on Monday were Representatives of the Employee Union and the White Haven Center Board of Trustees. They too gave State and Center officials an earful.   The I-Team’s Andy Mehalshick has the latest.

The White Haven Center will NOT close if we have anything to say about it.. so say families of loved ones who reside at the facility.

The State announced last week it will close in 2022., it serves people with physical and intellectual challenges.,
 The families did not like what they heard and say the entire process is a sham veiled in secrecy. They and employees vow to keep the center’s doors open.
 
Lauren Lotzi’s sister Lauren has lived at the White Haven Center for 11 years. She says her sister will surely die if she is forced to leave the White Haven Center.

 
“I’m devastated. This is my sister’s home for 48 years. She had profound disabilities. She can’t walk, talk or feed herself. They clear her throat. She’s is a severe case,“ said Linda Litzi.

Ann and Linda Winsock’s are very concerned about their 27-year-old sister- Jeanine.

 
“I basically told them I will not compromise my sister’s life. I will not visit her at a cemetery plot” stressed Anna Winsock.

About 200 family members met Monday with State and Center officials to discuss the closure process. A process they vow to fight.

Many of the families walked out of the meeting and gathered at the nearby Saint Patrick’s Church to plan their next move.

Gregory Smith is the former Director of the White Haven Center. He is now a member of the White Haven Center’s Board of Trustees which advises the Governor on how best to operate this center.
 “Mehalshick asked:  What do you want the Governor to know!

  “I would never have picked these centers to close. I’m very concerned about who are going to need state center services in the years to come. People with intellectual disabilities, “ Gregory Smith replied.

Jerry Flynn represents Union workers at the Center. 429 will be offered positions at other state agencies or assisted with obtaining jobs at private facilities.
 

“I’m more optimistic when I saw the passion at the meeting today. My hope was bolstered, “ said Flynn. 

A public meeting on the closing will be held on September 12th in Hazleton –a meeting that many family members say should have been held before the closure was announced.

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