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MHA in PA email release on PNA Raise

In a Wednesday, February 18, 2009 email sent out by the Mental Health Association in Pennsylvania (MHA PA) they are asking folks to send their appreciation for making the PNA  raise a reality.  The information below indicates that it did NOT cost the state anything extra to impliment this raise, so it is a win win kind of thing.

Pennsylvania residents of personal care homes living on SSI receive a personal needs allowance (PNA).  Despite an increase in living expenses, this amount has not changed since 1993. Until now.

When the federal government recently raised the SSI benefit for each individual by $37, Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare issued a policy statement allowing individuals living in personal care homes to keep $25 of that money bringing the total amount of the personal needs allowance to $85. 

DPW’s decision does not cost the state more than it currently spends; and personal care homes do not lose any money.

This decision by Estelle Richman, DPW Secretary, was influenced by several lawmakers, notably Representatives Jim Marshall and Phyllis Mundy.

Please send the following email to Governor Rendell and Representatives Marshall and Mundy to let them know you are happy with this decision.

Rep. Kathy Rapp authors legislation “imposing moratorium on all future state hospital closures”

I received Rep. Kathy Rapp’s fall 2008 newsletter in themal toda and discovered tha while sh was boasting about stopping the privitization of forensics at Warren State Hospital.  The article continued and indicated she had authored hb1455 calling for a study to determine the approximate number of inmates who are mentally ill.  She also is ctinuing her quest to put amoratorium on the closure of state hospitals until this study can be cmpleted.

Here’s a link to the full electronic version of her Fall 2008 newslette so you can ead the full text yourself. 


The link is a nightmare, but I made it so it was easy to find and faster to download or preview online if you prefer.  I posted it uing a free service at http://www.acrobat.com  you can create and share pf files for free.

“Mayview hearing: Money from sale should stay here, senator declares”

This article found in The Gateway Newspaper can be found in its original format at … http://www.gatewaynewspapers.com/signalitem/93999/    it talks about what should happen with any money that comes from the sale of Mayview State Hospital.

Mayview hearing: Money from sale should stay here, senator declares

By David Mayernik Jr., Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Mayview State Hospital in Bridgeville is still on track to close by the end of the year.

State Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Pittsburgh) wants to ensure that money generated from the sale of the 335-acre property stays in the community.

In conjunction with a state Senate Democratic policy committee hearing last Thursday morning in Pittsburgh City Council chambers, Ferlo announced he has introduced legislation that would redirect funds to other community mental health facilities.

“Every sale dollar should help those who rely on mental health care services,” he said. 

Under the proposal, proceeds of any mental health facility would be deposited into one of two accounts, the mental health community services account or the mental retardation community services account.

Last August, the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare announced plans to close clinical services of the civil section of Mayview by Dec. 31.

Last week’s committee hearing focused on how the hospital’s closure will affect patients and staff members.

“This is a high-impact issue,” said Ferlo.

Department of Public Welfare secretary Estelle Richman said there are currently six wards open at the hospital. The next could close this month.

Following a series of assessments, patients at Mayview are being placed in group homes, public housing or with family members.

Those in need of continuing treatment could be transferred to another hospital.

Since the closure announcement, approximately 80 patients have been discharged from Mayview, leaving 160 people still to be placed.

Richman anticipates that they will be discharged from June through Dec. 31.

“But no one will be removed from Mayview Hospital unless we can ensure their safe transition,” she said.

Mayview State Hospital, which treats patients with mental illnesses, serves 225 individuals from Allegheny, Beaver, Lawrence, Greene and Washington counties.

State officials said Mayview’s closing is part of Pennsylvania’s commitment to reduce its reliance on institutional care and improve access to home and community-based services.

Ferlo said he would like to see a redevelopment group involved in the land re-use task force so that issues of community housing can be addressed.

“I really think we can look at this as an opportunity and meet the challenge.”

The task force — which includes state Sen. John Pippy and state Rep. Nick Kotik — was formed to help guide the future of the facility.

“State vows Mayview patients will have good care”

This article was originally printed on April 4, 2008 in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and can be seen in it’s original format at … http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/s_560566.html

State vows Mayview patients will have good care
The Pittsburgh area has sufficient facilities and mental health professionals to absorb the 160 people yet to be released from Mayview State Hospital by year’s end, state officials told members of a state Senate committee hearing in Pittsburgh Thursday.Estelle Richman, secretary of the Department of Public Welfare, said all patients discharged by the South Fayette hospital have a detailed case management plan begun months in advance, and teams of professionals to assist in their transition to group homes or other residential settings. She said she expects 65 patients to be discharged by July, with the remainder released by year’s end — although the process is about a month behind schedule, she said.

“No one will be removed from Mayview unless we can ensure their safe transition,” Richman said. “I have no problem going past the deadline if that’s appropriate.”

More worrisome, Richman said, is the fate of other people with mental health concerns living in the community who might not be getting care.

“The people in the state hospital we know by name, we know what they need,” Richman said. “It’s their (counterparts) that will be identified over the next year and a half that we have to make sure we have the capacity to supply housing, medical support, hospital support and community support.”An accidental death of a former Mayview patient and the suicide of another prompted the Department of Public Welfare to briefly halt Mayview discharges in the fall. A review urged enhanced monitoring of patients transferred between counties and improved coordination between jails and mental health caregivers.

Three other patients, who had been released since the August announcement of Mayview’s closure, have died — all of natural causes, said David Jones, a former Mayview CEO who is overseeing the closure for the Department of Public Welfare. Jones said those deaths correspond with the shorter-than-average life spans of the mentally ill documented in a national study.

“People with serious mental illness tend to die 25 years earlier than the general population,” Jones said. “Some are individuals with a number of debilitating medical conditions — morbid obesity, diabetes and chronic pulmonary” ailments.

Bonnie Pfister can be reached at bpfister@tribweb.com or 412-320-7886.

“Mayview remains on track to close by end of the year”

  The following article was found in the April 4, 2008 issue of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and can be viewed in its original format at … http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08095/870445-55.stm

Mayview remains on track to close by end of the year
Friday, April 04, 2008

Officials remain on track to close Mayview State Hospital by the end of the year, Department of Public Welfare Secretary Estelle Richman said yesterday.

Six wards remain open at the South Fayette hospital and plans call for closing another ward at the end of this month, Ms. Richman told a group of state legislators during a hearing at the City-County Building.

That timetable is about 30 days behind schedule, and she said officials would slow the process further if patients are “not able to move into the community safely.”

But she said the state remained “well within the framework of meeting the closure deadline of Dec. 31.”

Ms. Richman was among a number of officials who testified at a Senate Democratic Policy Committee hearing about the impact of the closure. State officials announced plans last August to shut down the facility.

Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park, said he requested the hearing to discuss the affect of the closure on patients and staff. Other lawmakers who attended were Sen. Richard Kasunic of Dunbar, the policy committee’s chairman, and Sen. Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills.

More than 200 patients were at the hospital when the closure was announced. Ms. Richman said more than 80 people have been discharged and another 65 should be moved by the end of June, leaving 95 patients at the facility.

She said the state has hired a contractor to conduct assessments on patients that hospital clinical staff believe may be at risk if they are released to the community. Based on those results, some patients could be transferred to Torrance State Hospital.

Despite the planning process, “unexpected and unfortunate events will take place,” she said.

David Jones, a welfare department official, said one patient disappeared two days after he left Mayview and was later found in New Jersey. Pennsylvania officials worked to ensure he had appropriate care in that state, he said.

Late last year, the state also temporarily halted the downsizing of Mayview following the death of a former patient who authorities said jumped or fell from the Birmingham Bridge. A second ex-patient, released from a Mayview forensic unit used to evaluate and treat people in the criminal justice system, also was killed when he was struck by a train.

While the state is tracking former patients, Ms. Richman also expressed concern about people with serious mental illness who are not part of the closure process.

Patricia Valentine, deputy director of Allegheny County’s Office of Behavioral Health, said the county has helped to develop an extended acute care unit at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Oakland aimed at serving patients who formerly would be cared for at Mayview. Plans also are under way for developing another extended care unit that is not based at a hospital, she said.

The county also is working to develop an array of other housing programs and services, prompting opposition in some cases from the community.

Those that have drawn criticism, she said, include a proposal to open a 14-bed personal care home in Verona for people with mental illness and to provide housing and services in about 20 apartments for former substance abusers in Swissvale and to about 17 people in Shadyside who have had mental illness or substance abuse problems.

Mayview had about 500 staff members when officials announced the closure, not counting workers in the forensic unit. Ms. Richman said the state has placed more than 100 staff in other positions.

She expressed confidence that “we will be successful in placing all the remaining employees in state jobs by the time the hospital closes.”

Mr. Ferlo noted that he has introduced legislation that would require use of funds generated from the sale of Mayview for community mental health care. State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Squirrel Hill, has sponsored similar legislation.

Joe Fahy can be reached at jfahy@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1722.
First published on April 4, 2008 at 12:00 am

“All Mayview discharges will go through state DPW secretary”

  I regret that I was unable to find a date for when this article was printed, but it appears to have come from the “Observer-Reporter.com” based on the email address for the staff writer included with the article  It was an interesting article though that explains how discharges from Mayview will be finalized by Estelle Richman.  It was something I hadn’t heard about prior to reading this, so I thought there might be others who would be interested. Here’s a link to the page where I found the article …  http://www.observer-reporter.com/OR/Print/12_07_Mayview_meeting

All Mayview discharges will go through state DPW secretary

By Dawn Keller, Staff writer


The state secretary for the Department of Public Welfare promised Thursday that she will have final say on all discharges from Mayview State Hospital in South Fayette Township.

“Every plan comes before me,” Secretary Estelle Richman told a group of legislators and Washington County officials. “I approve it personally. If I’m not satisfied, I hold it.”

Richman met Thursday with local officials to provide an update about the closing of the mental hospital, scheduled for the end of 2008. The focus of the discussion was what would happen to patients when they leave the hospital. Officials also briefly touched on making jobs available for Mayview employees.

“My interest is where are we going to put them?” Washington County President Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca said. “That’s the bottom line.” There are 16 or 17 Washington County residents among the 200 patients remaining at Mayview.

Jan Taper, director of the Washington County Mental Health/Mental Retardation office, said plans are being made for those patients. There’s a long-term facility in Bentleyville for those with mental-health problems. The state also is seeking a location for a regional long-term facility, said Linda Zelch, director of western operations for the DPW’s Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Patients who need to be readmitted can go to community hospitals. Taper said area hospitals will be able to “ramp up” when the closure takes place.

The state also is considering around-the-clock community treatment teams, which would consist of 15 workers for 58 patients, one-on-one support and quality management and consultation for doctors who need assistance, Zelch said.

O’Dell Seneca questioned what would happen if zoning or other problems arose to keep a new facility from opening by the time Mayview closes.

“No one is to leave until there’s a place for them to go,” Richman said, adding that sometimes stays must be extended until those problems are resolved. “Unfortunately, that’s how the world works if we want to be safe.”

The meeting came a week after 100 hospital employees met with state representatives to air concerns about the welfare of patients released into the community.

State officials temporarily halted discharges for two weeks while it conducted reviews of events involving two former patients.

Anthony Fallert walked away from a community mental-health program on Oct. 29 and either fell or jumped from the Birmingham Bridge. Ahson Abdullah, a former patient in the forensic unit, which is also slated for closure, was hit by a train.

The state found the discharge process didn’t give rise to either incident.

Copyright Observer Publishing Co.

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