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“Bottom-Line Decision”


This article appeared in the August 27, 2010 edition of the Warren Times-Observer and gives some more views regarding the closing of the Forensics Unit at Warren State Hospital.

Bottom-Line Decision

Justification to close WSH forensic unit based on potential savings

By BRIAN FERRY bferry@timesobserver.com

POSTED: August 27, 2010
Money is the only justification given in the decision to close the forensic unit at Warren State Hospital.

The state Department of Public Welfare has quoted a savings of approximately $2.3 million per year that will be realized by consolidating the Warren and Torrance state hospital forensic units.

“Due to these tough economic times, the department (of public welfare) has had to make tough decisions on how operations will continue as funding levels fall,” Acting Deputy Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Sherry Snyder wrote in a letter to employees of the Warren forensic unit. “The Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services has determined that by consolidating the clinical services of the Warren RFPC (Regional Forensic Psychiatric Center) and Torrance RFPC the department can continue to provide quality consumer care while reducing the financial burden of operating two forensic centers.”

In a July 29 letter to the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association, Acting Deputy Secretary for Administration Michael Stauffer said the consolidation “will provide the opportunity for financial savings due to efficiencies of scale, decrease in operational costs to maintain the separate unit at Warren RFPC and the consolidation of administrative oversight.”

In the Aug. 2 letter, Snyder said the consolidation is not about the quality of patient care in Warren.

“This closure is in no way a reflection of the quality of consumer care provided at the Warren RFPC,” Snyder wrote. “On the contrary, the hospital’s full accreditation is evidence of the high quality of care and treatment afforded forensic consumers by all of you.”

So, it’s all about $2.3 million per year.

In a response to a Right-to-Know request made by the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association (PSCOA), the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare cited some financial data.

“The savings estimates were based on the fiscal year 2008/2009 actual cost report from Warren State Hospital,” according to information provided to PSCOA. “The calculations for the maintenance/physical operations costs from the RFPC (Regional Forensic Psychiatric Center) unit being closed would save $1,074,214.29 and the staff position savings from the consolidation would be $1,205,627.62.”

That’s nothing to sneeze at, but will the state really realize that savings?

State Rep. Kathy Rapp (R-65th) doesn’t think so. Neither does the local union president representing most of the unit’s employees.

Rapp said the changes will result in a shift of costs. Maintenance of the forensic unit building and the grounds at Warren State Hospital will continue despite the unit being empty, she said. The recently enlarged unit at Torrance State Hospital in Westmoreland County will require more staff and more maintenance.

There are more than 40 employees at the Warren forensic unit.

The $1.2 million in savings from staff consolidation represents a little less than $30,000 in salary and benefits for each position.

“They’re saving this money from the staff positions,” Rapp said. “That’s kind of questionable when they’re hiring more people down at Torrance.”

According to Ed Rollinger, president of PSCOA Local SI Warren, “They’ve hired 28 staff at Torrance in the past six months.” Rapp also quoted that number of new hires at Torrance.

If those 28 new hires were made to accommodate the influx of patients from Warren, they should be counted against anticipated staffing savings.

Taking those 28 from 44 in Warren leaves only 16 positions eliminated. To generate $1.2 million in savings, each of those 16 positions would have to average $75,000 in salary and benefits.

The one-month advance notice of furloughs from the state to the union lists a total of 28 positions that will be lost at Warren’s forensic unit. According to Rollinger, as of Thursday he was not aware of any current forensic security employees at Warren being offered positions at Torrance.

Rollinger said his requests for more detailed financial figures relating to the closure have not been answered.

Even if the state will save $2.3 million, Rapp and Rollinger argue that closing forensic units is a losing proposition.

“This situation is taking place while our corrections facilities are extremely overcrowded and the state is incarcerating 10,531 inmates with a mental health diagnosis,” Rapp said in a letter to Attorney General Tom Corbett. “Add to this situation there are currently 52 people on a waiting list for a forensic bed. This waitlist has caused overcrowding in our county jails.”

Rapp said the 2,130 Pennsylvania inmates incarcerated in out-of-state prisons because of overcrowding are costing the state $48,201,900 each year.

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Call to action

Rep. Kathy Rapp has responded to concerns about her statement on September 17, 2008, see the following link for more details …. https://pamhi.wordpress.com/2008/09/18/rep-kathy-rapp-responds/ 

I didn’t mention this before in thelast post bout Rep. Kathy Rapp’s Fall 2008 newsletter, maily because I was too fired up about it and wanted to cool down before I posted anything about it.

Also in the newsletter, Rep. Kathy Rapp states,

“How many lives have to be lost or ndangered befo the Rndell administration gives up completely on this wrong-headed, cost-shiftin state hospital de-institionalization scheme that directly coincides with hundreds of severly mentally ill patients, many of whom are repeat sexual predators, being discharged into the streets and inevitably back into county and sate corectional facilities.” In the next paragraph, she goes on to state, “Not even one dollar saved due to the closure of a state hospital can justifyyet another repeat offense from a rapist or pedophile.”

Based on what Rep. Kahy Rapp says, it sounds ie she is lumping mental health Consumers into one generalized blanket statemnt that makes it sound as though folks with mental illnesses are sex offenders. I’m asking that my readers look over the newsletter and read the full article to see what she is saying, then take thefollowing action …

Contact Rep. Kathy Rapp and ask her to either retract the statement or to make a public apology for using stereotyping language in a public statement.

Here is a direct linkto the PDF version of the newsletter as posted on Rep. Rapp’s website (under “latest news”)…. http://reprapp.com/uploads/Rapp-NL-8-08.pdf

Here is contact information for Rep. Kathy Rapp of the 65th District

Harrisburgh Office

P.O. Box 202065
161 East Wing
Harrisburgh, PA 17120-2065
Phone: (717)787-1367
Toll Free: (866)854-5294

Email: klrapp@pahousegop.com
Website: http://reprapp.com

District Offices

404 Market Street
Warren, PA 16365
Phone (814)723-5203

8 Field Street
Kane, PA 16735

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.

Stop the ammendment of HB1448

  I have received information regarding HB1448 that if it isn’t stopped could cause chaos in regards to the closure of Mayview State Hospital.  It has been brought to my attention that Rep. Kathy Rapp is attempting to get an ammendment added to HB1448 for a moratorium on mental illness among Pennsylvania inmates.  If this ammendment is added, it will bring the closure of Mayview to a screeching halt, which will in turn leave many Consumers in limbo.

  Many studies have been done on the impact of the closure of Mayview State Hospital on the communities it serves.  There have also been studies done with regards to mental illness among inmates.  Testimony regarding the impact on communities, explainiing what measures have been taken to transition Consumers as smoothly as possible from Mayview State Hospital into the community.  In short there are safety nets in place to keep these folks from falling through the cracks of the community based mental health system.

The Coalition for the Responsible Closure of Mayview State Hospital has stated the following according to imformation I received from Carol Horowitz, Managing Attorney, Pittsburgh Disability Rights Network of PA

We oppose any moratorium that disrupts the process already in progress at Mayview State Hospital.  Such an amendment would prevent the Governor and Department of Public Welfare from securing funds to develop community alternatives in order to comply with the Commonwealth’s legal obligations to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and would leave hundreds of individuals in a nether world of transition”

I may have more detailed information, but I need to check to make sure it’s ok for me to post it here before adding more.  In the meantime, I would encourage EVERYONE, especially those in the counties directly effected by the closure of Mayview, to contact Rep. Kathy Rapp of the 65th District to let her know that you OPPOSE a moratorium of this nature, and that you want HB1448 to be passed without being ammended.

Contact information for Rep. Kathy Rapp can be found on her website at …

“Rapp Encourages Local Families Dealing with Autism to Apply for State Mini Grant Assistance”

I found this article on Rep. Kathy Rapp’s website, and thought it is something that could be beneficial to folks with Autism and their families.

Rapp Encourages Local Families Dealing with Autism to Apply for State Mini Grant Assistance

State Representative Kathy Rapp (R-Warren/Forest/McKean) announced the availability of mini-grants from the Bureau of Autism Services within the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) and is encouraging eligible residents to apply.
The maximum mini-grant is $500, and can be used for the following services, between now and Aug. 31, 2008:
  • Respite or child care, including private babysitting.
  • Summer camp programs.
  • Autism or advocacy related conferences, workshops or training opportunities.
  • Recreational or community programs.
  • Modifications or adaptations for home and community safety.
In order to be eligible, applicants must reside in Pennsylvania, be either an adult with ASD or have a family member with ASD, and may not have received other family support services for the past 12 months.
Applications must be postmarked no later than April 18, and faxed or e-mailed applications will not be accepted. Those individuals applying for ineligible services will have their applications disqualified.
Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, and awardees will be notified by mail in mid-May. According to the DPW, applicants who did not receive grants in 2007 will be given priority. For additional information on the mini-grant program or for an application, visit Rapp’s Web site at www.RepRapp.com .Rep. Kathy Rapp
65th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
(814) 723-5203
(717) 787-1367
Contact: Ty McCauslin
House Republican Public Relations
(717) 772-9979
March 17, 2008

“Rapp Takes State Hospital Closing Moratorium Mission to Speaker’s Symposium on Crime and Violence”

Released to the media on January 8, 2008 Representative Kathy Rapp continues to push for a study on the number of inmates who are mentally ill in hopes that she can delay the closure of state hospitals until the study is completed.

Rapp Takes State Hospital Closing Moratorium Mission to Speaker’s Symposium on Crime and Violence

District 65 Lawmaker not backing down on protecting patients, jobs and services at Warren State Hospital despite partisan attempts to kill bill
Despite partisan attempts to bury her legislation (House Bill 1455), which calls for a moratorium on all future state hospital closings until a study is completed to determine the approximate number state and county prison inmates suffering from mental illness, in the PA House Health and Human Services committee, Rep. Kathy Rapp (R-Warren) confirmed today that she is moving forward with her ongoing battle to protect the patients, jobs and community services at Warren State Hospital.
“Two times over the past several months my commonsense moratorium legislation has been on the House Health and Human Services Committee voting calendar,” confirmed Rapp. “On at least one of those occasions the Rendell administration irresponsibly asserted their partisan influence over the House Health and Human Services Majority Committee Chairman to keep my bill, which has the support of nearly 70 state lawmakers, from advancing to the House floor for consideration.   
Her next course of action will be to travel with Forest/Warren County Director of Human Services Mary Kushner to Philadelphia this coming Thursday to participate in House Speaker Dennis Obrien’s Symposium on Crime, Violence and Mental Health Issues.
“How many lives have to be lost or endangered before the Rendell administration gives up on this wrong-headed cost-shifting state hospital deinstitutionalization scheme that directly coincides with hundreds of severely mentally ill patients, many of them who are repeat sexual predators, being discharged into the streets and inevitably back into county and state correctional facilities,” said Rapp. “Not even one dollar saved due to the closure of a state hospital or the privatization of a forensic unit can justify yet another repeat offense from a rapist or a pedophile.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare’s (DPW) announcement of the December 2008 closure of Mayview State Hospital in Allegheny County and the potential privatization of forensic staff at both Warren and Norristown state hospitals prompted Rapp to author her legislation. According to the DPW, the privatization of more than 200 forensic jobs, including the forensic unit at Warren State Hospital, “will cut costs by 20 percent,” while “at the same time enhance community based services.”
In sharp contrast, the following information compiled by the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association clearly indicates that the DPW’s flawed cost-shifting strategy of closing state hospitals, dismantling state hospital forensic units and entrusting these essential public services to the lowest possible bidder on the privatization auction block is an unnecessary, dangerous and over-expensive public policy gamble that continues to put both patient and public safety at risk, while dramatically increasing mental health care costs in Pennsylvania and across the nation:
Nationwide: Over the past three decades, the deinstitutionalizing of state hospitals has coincided with a dramatic increase of jailed mentally ill persons.   According to Federal Bureau of Justice statistics, there are currently 1.25 million prison inmates suffering from debilitating mental conditions such as schizophrenia and post-dramatic stress disorder. Moreover, studies show that inmates suffering from mental illness remain in jail eight times longer than other inmates, at seven times the cost. 
Florida: In Clearwater, a schizophrenic inmate gouged out his eye after waiting weeks for a hospital bed. Taxpayers in Miami-Dade County spend $100,000 each day to house and care for mentally ill prison inmates
Michigan: Due largely to the closing of the Northville Psychiatric Hospital, one of the last public mental health facilities in the metropolitan Detroit area, a study conducted in three Michigan counties found that 50 percent of prison inmates suffered from some form of mental illness, while 34 percent were diagnosed with severe mental illness.
Philadelphia:  A study conducted on the replacement of the 500-bed Philadelphia State Hospital with a community based treatment program revealed that direct treatment costs actually increased from $68,446 to $78,929 and the price tag for annual cost to care treatment increased from $48,631 to $66,794. These increases do not include the additional cost incurred by Philadelphia-area correctional facilities to hire more staff and medical experts to deal with the significant influx in mentally ill inmates.
Allegheny County: Authorities believe that Anthony Fallert, a 24-year old schizophrenic patient discharged from Mayview State Hospital, walked  away from the community-based program he was assigned to on Pittsburgh’s south side and either jumped or fell to his death from the Birmingham Bridge where he drowned in the Mongahela River on Oct. 29, 2007.  
“Tragic reports and statistics like these prove that any time a state hospital is shut down or an experienced and skilled forensic unit such as the staff at Warren State Hospital is privatized, greatly increases the possibility that our most vulnerable citizens suffering from schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder or substance addiction will wind up unnecessarily incarcerated, unfairly exploited or otherwise victimized in mainstream society,” said Rapp. “We can only hope that my moratorium legislation finally receives an open-minded reception at Thursday’s Speaker’s Symposium on Crime and Violence, than it has thus far from the Rendell administration and the House Health and Human Services Committee. Placing partisan politics above the safety and well-being of all Pennsylvania citizens is not only inexcusable, it is absolutely inhumane.”  
Rep. Kathy Rapp
65th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
(814) 723-5203
(717) 787-1367
Contact: Ty McCauslin
House Republican Public Relations
(717) 772-9979
January 8, 2008

“Rapp mental health bill still pending in legislature”

This also appeared in the November 27, 2007 issue of the Warren Times Observer it talks about a bill State Representative Kathy Rapp and 70 other co-sponsors have presented asking for a study to determine how widespread serious mental illness is in the correctional system, and also asking that while the studfy is done, a hold be place on the closure of state hospitals,  and privatizing of forensics facilities.

Rapp mental health bill still pending in legislature


11/27/2007 – Staff Writer

In September, State Rep. Kathy Rapp introduced legislation aimed at studying and improving mental health care for inmates in county and state prisons.

The bill, HB 1455, called for a moratorium on the closing of state hospital and forensics units, along with a study of how widespread serious mental illness and substance abuse are in state and county prisons across Pennsylvania.

With more than 70 co-sponsors, the bill was referred by Rapp to the Health and Human Services Committee of the House of Representatives on Sept. 26. It was scheduled for consideration on Oct. 23.

In the week prior to consideration, the bill was put on hold by Gov. Ed Rendell’s office because of its request for a moratorium on the closing of state hospital and forensic units.

After meeting with representatives from the governor’s office and the Department of Public Welfare, Rapp said it was clear, in the weeks that followed the hold, that the bill would not be signed as it was presented.

Rapp said she would continue to push the study of mental illness in county and state prisons, along with the cost of treatment, as a resolution.

If a resolution is passed, it will require the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to compile and study the number of county and state prison inmates who suffer from serious mental illness, mental retardation and substance abuse. The study will also include the number of prison inmates who receive mental health treatment prior to being placed in prison.

In October, the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare announced that Allegheny County’s Mayview State Hospital will close in December 2008. In addition, forensics units at Warren and Norristown state hospitals may be privatized.

Warren State Hospital’s forensics unit currently employs 50 people. It serves almost half of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.

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