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  you can create and share pf files for free.

“Cloud of uncertainty hanging over WSH lifted”

This article reverberates the latest update regarding Forensics in Pennsylvania not being privatized.  It is from the Warren Times-Observer, originally printed on March 22, 2008.  It also mentions some possible uses for what use to be doctors’ houses on Warren State’s grounds that were brought up at some point during the extensive discussions surrounding Warren State Hospital.

Cloud of uncertainty hanging over WSH lifted


The cloud of uncertainty which has hovered over the forensics unit at Warren State Hospital for the past year has been lifted. “It won’t be closed and it won’t be privatized,” State Rep. Kathy Rapp said on Friday.

Rapp said that she was notified of the decision on Thursday evening by the state Department of Public Welfare.

Rapp said the decision was made by Pennsylvania Welfare Secretary Estelle Richman in conjunction with the Rendell administration.

The forensics unit employs 50 people and Rapp said the transfer or elimination of those jobs would have had “a domino effect” on the local economy.

“It would have had a huge impact on the economy here.” said Rapp. “We needed to retain those jobs. I’m very pleased.”

The privatization or possible closure of the forensics unit had been rumored since last April and state officials confirmed in August that privatization of forensic units at Warren and Norristown state hospitals was being considered.

Rapp arranged to have a legislative policy committee hold a public hearing on the issue in Warren and said on Friday she felt the comments offered at that hearing “put pressure on the Department of Public Welfare” to reconsider.

The closing of the unit, said Rapp, could also have placed “a huge burden” on the Warren County Jail and local legal system.

In the event the unit had been closed, Rapp had prepared a bill designed to assure that adequate state funding would be provided for forensic unit patients no longer housed at Warren State Hospital.

In addition to the public efforts to not privatize or close the forensics units in Norristown or Warren, Rapp said there were also behind-the-scenes negotiations involving the state and state correctional officers union.

The Department of Public Welfare said on Friday that after meeting with union leaders, Richman was withdrawing the proposal to consolidate and privatize forensic units.

Under the terms of the agreement between the state and union, the forensic units at Warren and Norristown will remain, while services at Mayview State Hospital will be transferred to Torrance State Hospital after Mayview closes in December.

Warren State Hospital’s forensics unit serves 32 counties and Rapp said that the closing of the unit would have increased the travel burden for many patients’ families.

During her talks with Richman, Rapp said, there was also discussion of using the empty residences on the hospital grounds, formerly used by doctors, as transitional homes for patients.

The welfare secretary is following up on the possibility of using the residences, Rapp said. “Our prisons are filling up with people with mental illness and drug and alcohol problems,” said Rapp. “If we can utilize those houses, that’s great.”

Section: News Date Posted: 3/22/2008

“Pennsylvania drops bid to privatize forensic mental-health services Cost-saving deal reached with unions”

This article is from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette found in the March 21, 2008 Issue, it talks about a deal that has been reached to cut costs, but also prevent Forensics facilities in Pennsylvania from being privatized.  The articale can be read below or viewed at the following address….

Pennsylvania drops bid to privatize forensic mental-health services  Cost-saving deal reached with unions
Friday, March 21, 2008

After reaching a cost-saving agreement with union leaders, the state plans to end its efforts to privatize and consolidate forensic services in state hospitals serving people with mental illnesses.

In a statement prepared for release today, state Department of Public Welfare Secretary Estelle Richman said the agreement maintains quality care and continued employment for forensic center staff while providing savings to Pennsylvania taxpayers.

Forensic units provide evaluation and treatment for people in the criminal justice system.

The agreement calls for no layoffs, though officials plan to save about $1.5 million the first year by cutting positions through attrition and making salary changes for new hires, said department spokeswoman Stacey Witalec. Savings should increase in later years, she said.

Representatives of union groups praised the agreement while acknowledging that it involves concessions.

“Our members felt this was a major win,” said Mike Morrill, state unit coordinator for Service Employees International Union Healthcare Pennsylvania, which represents nurses in forensic units.

“This agreement saves tax dollars without compromising public safety,” said David La Torre, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association, which had been highly critical of the privatization effort.

Other unions that worked to reach the agreement with the state included Pennsylvania Social Services Union Local 668 and the Office and Professional Employees International Union Healthcare Pennsylvania.

The state disclosed the privatization effort last August as part of an announcement that Mayview State Hospital would close by the end of this year.

The agreement to be announced today still means the termination of forensic and other mental health services at Mayview.

Currently, the state provides forensic services at Mayview, Norristown and Warren state hospitals. The state had explored creating privately run forensic facilities at two sites, the Norristown and Torrance hospitals.

Under the new agreement, state-operated forensic services at the Warren and Norristown hospitals will continue. Once Mayview closes, forensic services there will be transferred to Torrance State Hospital.

Joe Fahy can be reached at or 412-263-1722.
First published on March 21, 2008 at 12:00 am