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“Petrarca successfully fights closing of forensic psychiatric unit at Torrance State Hospital”


This one was news to me, I wasn’t aware of the possibility that the forensic unit at Torrance was being considered for closure.   but the above link is to a press release from State Rep Joe Petrarca indicating that he had stopped the closure



MHA email newsletter about Rep. Dan Frankel’s proposed legislation

The following information is from an email newsletter I received today, Tuesday, March 31, 2009, from Mental Health Association of Pennsylvania (MHAPA) it indicates that State Representative Dan Frankel is introducing legislation involving funds received from the sale or lease from state mental health facilities.  I included the link from the email that takes you to a form you can fill out to send to your state representative asking them to co-sponsor the bill.

Representative Dan Frankel is introducing legislation that would ensure the proceeds of the sale or lease of a mental health facility would be used to establish a mental health community services account.  The community mental health system would directly benefit from this legislation.  The legislation requires the reinvestment of the proceeds into one-time costs related to housing options and services that support independent living. 

Please contact your PA House representative and urge him/her to co-sponsor Representative Frankel’s legislation.

Personal Needs Allowance Raise Celebrations!

There are two celbrations planed to celebrate the successfull increase in the Personal Needs Allowance for folks on SSI in Personal Care Homes.

Pittsburgh …

The Pittsburgh event is to be held … Thursday, February 26, 2009; 10 AM – 12 noon …a PDF file with details is available at …  https://share.acrobat.com/adc/document.do?docid=3e378dfa-a23f-4043-87df-3731b2291d33


Harrisburg …

The Harrisburg event to be held … Tuesday, March 10, 2009; 10 AM – 11 AM a PDF file with details is available at … https://share.acrobat.com/adc/document.do?docid=89091900-3788-497d-9282-b633e23cff83

The death of HB2253 … or is it? Part 2

  This is a second email I received from the same source at PMHCA regarding the death and hopefully resurrection of HB2253 offing another way you can help.

Click here to download the booklet mentioned in the following message



Dear friends – Here’s another way to get our message out about the personal needs allowance.


I’m attaching a booklet that tells the real stories of several personal care home residents and their struggles to survive on $60 per month. You can print a copy of this booklet (color is fantastic if you have a color printer!), personalize it with your own message and send it on to the Governor and your legislators.


You could even have everyone in your drop-in center, support group, clubhouse, personal care home or other group to write their personal messages. Some people may want to tell what they spend their monthly allowance on. Feel free to add more blank pages that you fill in.


You will want to include a cover letter that tells who is sending the booklet to them so they can contact you. Here is what we want the governor and our legislators to know:  

It’s time to give a holiday gift to Pennsylvania’s low income personal care home residents: SPLIT THE SSI RAISE!

Nearly 10,000 seniors and people with disabilities in PA’s personal care homes are struggling to live on a $60 monthly allowance that must pay for medication co-pays, transportation, clothing, phone calls and all personal items. They have not received a raise in their monthly needs allowance since 1993!


In January 2009, all citizens on SSI will receive a generous 5.8% cost of living raise, $37 per month – the largest raise in 25 years. PA’s PCH residents will not receive ONE CENT of the raise unless DPW decides lets some of it go to them. We advocate that the raise be split evenly between the residents and the owners, as it was for Dom Care.

Please ask DPW to “Split the SSI raise” so that some of our most vulnerable residents can better meet their own needs!


Send to:

1. Governor Edward Rendell

225 Capital Building

Harrisburg, PA 17120

Or governor@state.pa.us


2. Your PA state legislators – You can find your legislator at www.congress.org. Type your zip code into the box beside “find your officials”. Send your message to your State Legislators.

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.

Smoke Out

  This is an article talking about the potential smoking ban in PA.  It still needs to be signed by Gov. Ed Rendell, but it sounds like the bill will pass.  The article was found in the Warren Times-Observer on June 12, 2008 at the following address …. http://timesobserver.com/page/content.detail/id/502125.html?nav=5006


Businesses bracing for change


POSTED: June 12, 2008
Pennsylvania residents will no longer be able to light up after a meal at their favorite restaurant.

A compromise bill banning smoking in most public places was approved by the state Senate on Tuesday. It had been approved earlier by the state House. It now goes to Gov. Ed Rendell, who has said he will sign the legislation. It will be effective in 90 days.

Local restaurant owners and managers had mixed reactions to the bill on Wednesday.

Monte Culbertson, owner of Snuffy’s Cafe and Lounge, said his primary concern isn’t the effect the new law will have on his business. He worries that exceptions in the bill will give an unfair advantage to other establishments.

“As long as they are not giving exceptions, I’m in favor of it,” said Culbertson.

The bill would ban smoking in enclosed or substantially enclosed areas, but allowing establishments with up to 20 percent of their annual sales in food to continue to permit smoking. Hotels would be able to have 25 percent of their rooms designated as smoking. Smoking would also be permitted in up to 25 percent of a casino floor or 50 percent of a casino floor, if the casino can prove to the state Department of Revenue that the smoking ban is harmful to its business. Designated outdoor smoking areas at sports events or recreation facilities, theater or performance establishments, private clubs, nursing homes, cigar bars, tobacco promotion events, and private homes would not be affected by the law.

Some local restaurants have already banned smoking, ahead of the new state law.

The Applebees restaurant at Warren Commons has been smoke-free since June 1. According to General Manager Erin Lichtenfels, the restaurant made the decision to go smoke-free and is serving as a test for other Applebees restaurants.

Lichtenfels feels that so far the transition to no smoking has gone smoothly.

“We haven’t seen a drop-off in business. We get many positive comments from customers,” said Lichtenfels.

The American Cancer Society has supported the bill since its initial introduction. However, Diane Phillips, director of government relations for the Pennsylvania region, believes that the bill doesn’t go far enough.

“Were happy it passed because it covers a majority of Pennsylvania, but there are still some exceptions,” said Phillips.

Phillips believes that smoking in any enclosed area should be banned without exceptions.

“As a consumer, we can go to other places, but for people who work there, they have no choice but to breath in secondhand smoke for eight- hour shifts.”

Individual violators can be fined up to $250 for the first offense, up to $500 for a second offense if it is within a year of the first, and up to $1,000 for a third offense if it is within a year of the second.

MHA Take Action on HB1448

I received the following by email through PMHCA, but it was sent through them by MHA.

During the week of May 5, 2008, HB 1448 will be brought to the floor of the PA House for a vote. If the current version of HB 1448 passes, the community mental health system will be the beneficiary when a state owned mental health facility is sold or leased. The bill requires the reinvestment of proceeds into one-time costs related to housing options and services that support independent living. In addition to having bi-partisan support in the General Assembly, HB 1448 is supported by the entire mental health community and the Rendell administration. The links included in the message from MHA will take you to more information, or to a site to find your state reps depending on which one you click on.


Unfortunately, HB 1448 is at risk. Representative Kathy Rapp plans on introducing an amendment that would impose a moratorium on the closure or population reduction of state mental health and mental retardation facilities, pending a study to determine the prevalence of serious mental illness and substance abuse in the inmate population of state correctional institutions and county jails.


Please contact your House representative and urge his/her vote in support of HB 1448 without amendment. Not only would this amendment disrupt the current process at Mayview State Hospital, it would also extend the moratorium to reducing the census at state hospitals across the Commonwealth, which means that many people who can thrive in the community would not be given that chance. For additional talking points on why this amendment should be defeated, click here.

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 …

“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.

“Send Mayview sale funds to other facilities: Ferlo”

 This article was originally found in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on April 2, 2008 and can be found in it’s original format at …. http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/cityregion/s_560158.html

Send Mayview sale funds to other facilities: Ferlo
A bill introduced Tuesday by state Sen. Jim Ferlo would require that money generated from the sale of Mayview State Hospital be used for other community mental health services and facilities.Ferlo, a Highland Park Democrat, said he believes it’s important to determine where the money would go before the South Fayette hospital — or any mental health facility — closes.

Ferlo proposes depositing money from the sale of mental health facilities into the Mental Health Community Services Account or the Mental Retardation Community Services Account.

The state House is considering a similar bill, he said.
The Senate Democratic Policy Committee will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. Thursday in Pittsburgh City Council Chambers, fifth floor of the City-County Building, Downtown, to discuss the impact of Mayview’s pending closure on patients and staff.

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