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“PA welfare department gets a new name”

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This September 24, 2014 WFMZ-TV News segment talks about a new law signed by Governor Corbett that officially changes the name of the Department of Public Welfare to be the Department of Human Services.  The name is felt to better encompass what the agency does or provides.


WFMZ-TV (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Secretary of Public Welfare launches initiative to reduce mental health prejudice”

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This May 10, 2013 article on the Central Pennsylvania Fox 43 website talks about the Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of Public Welfare’s initiative to decrease the stigma surrounding mental illness.  The article also includes a video news segment.

“Gov. Corbett’s easy attack on Pennsylvania’s weakest”

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This article was about 7 hours old when I posted it here, it is dated June 25, 2012 and found on the Philly.com website.

I had known it was something at risk, but hadn’t heard it had been eliminated until I got up this morning and happened to be talking to a couple of my neighbors who are among those directly effected by the elimination of General Assistance.

Department of Public Welfare to Close Allentown State Hospital – FOXBusiness.com

Department of Public Welfare to Close Allentown State Hospital – FOXBusiness.com

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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.

“Vision Quest details architectural plans Building at state hospital would become a youth crisis center”

This article found in the Monday, January 12, 2009 issue of the Norristown Times-Herald and can be viewed below or at the following address http://www.timesherald.com/articles/2009/01/12/news/doc496aca3cee3ac542528279.prt  


Vision Quest details architectural plans

Building at state hospital would become a youth crisis center


Monday, January 12, 2009 3:14 AM EST


Times Herald Staff

NORRISTOWN — The latest use variance request from Vision Quest of Downingtown to use Building 12 at Norristown State Hospital for a youth crisis diagnostic service for 12- to 18-year-olds, details how rooms in the three-story brick building would be used.

The architectural plans by David Black Associates in Chambersburg show a cafeteria, commercial kitchen, laundry facility and storage spaces in the 27,992-square-foot basement.

The first floor includes 14 bedrooms, four solariums, two dayrooms, two classrooms and two computer labs. The largest bedrooms measure 20 by 26 feet and are divided into four smaller areas by room dividers.

The second floor includes 12 bedrooms, four solariums, six administration offices, two dayrooms, two classrooms and one computer lab.

A packet of about 20 color photos submitted with the use variance application details the outside of the red-brick “U”-shaped building.

A 12-foot high cyclone fence, with a four-foot inward, inclined extension on top, closes off the grassy interior courtyard from the rest of the Norristown State Hospital campus.

The “former 24-hour psychiatric facility” would be equipped with “delayed egress locks” at all outside doors to prevent unauthorized entry and exit, the zoning application said. Any opening of the doors would start an “audible signal” (alarm).

Only a loss of electric power, a fire or an electric signal from each dayroom can disable the lock system, the application said.

Vision Quest and the state Department of General Services, which operates state facilities for the state Department of Public Welfare, have jointly applied for the use variance.

The use variance argued the “use is a permitted use pursuant to Section 320-81A(7) of the Norristown zoning ordinance, to the extent relief is deemed to be required.”

“Applicant seeks requested relief and any and all other relief as may be necessary to operate facility,” the application said, for an “institution for the short-term care of minor children in a custodial healthcare facility.”

The state hospital property, located at Sterigere and Stanbridge streets, has limited uses in several buildings for psychiatric care, the criminally insane and homeless services. Many buildings with broken windows and a dilapidated appearance on the grounds are posted with “Danger — No Entrance” signs.

The Norristown Zoning Hearing Board will hold a hearing on Vision Quest’s request for a use variance at 7 p.m., Jan. 27, at the municipal hall.

The Norristown State Hospital Board of Trustees issued a press release Thursday that said it understands and respects the community’s concerns regarding Vision Quest’s zoning application.

The board members said their responsibility is to advise, assist and make recommendations to the CEO of the hospital on management and operations questions.

They also expressed commitment to quality care for those who live at Norristown State Hospital.

State Rep. Mike Vereb, R- Dist. 150, and State Rep. Matthew Bradford, D-Dist. 70, have publicly opposed the Vision Quest proposal along with a majority of Norristown council.

Residents living in the neighborhood around the hospital have also expressed strong opposition.

“It’s bad news for Norristown,” said Norristown resident Gina Bottone in December. “It’s a black mark on the better reputation that Norristown is trying to build for itself. I don’t think Norristown should have to babysit Philadelphia’s problem children.”

In a Nov. 26, 2008 letter to Norristown Zoning Officer Jayne Musonye, the director of the Bureau of Real Estate for the state General Services department had asserted the department’s right to use the building.

“The intended use is clearly a permitted use and also a necessary function that is critical to the delivery of services required by the (state Department of Public Welfare) DPW,” wrote Joanne Phillips, the real estate director. “The Department of General Services is advising Vision Quest that they have fully complied with their lease agreement with the Commonwealth and we are authorizing Vision Quest to initiate occupancy of Building 12 at Norristown State Hospital.”

That letter prompted Norristown officials to get a state court order late last year, which forced Vision Quest to apply for a use variance.

Carl Rotenberg can be reached at crotenberg@timesherald.com or 610-272-2500, ext. 350.

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