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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Grants Temporary Injunction to Halt Closings of State Health Centers and Furloughing of Community Health Nurses

Harrisburg – On Wednesday, July 17th, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued a temporary injunction to halt the Corbett Administration’s plans to close Department of Health state health centers across Pennsylvania. This injunction blocks the State from taking action pending a full hearing by the Supreme Court of the appeal of a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court’s decision in April to deny the injunction request.

“We are thrilled by the judgment of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in deciding to grant temporary injunction against the closure of our state health centers,” said Joe Donahue, a DOH School Nurse Consultant whose position was eliminated in May. “Although we are still waiting for the full implications of the court’s ruling, this decision marks an important step towards protecting public health and ensuring community access. The PA Supreme Court has ruled on behalf of the public interest to stop yet another over-reach by the Corbett Administration.”

On April 25th, a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court denied a preliminary injunction sought by SEIU Healthcare PA, DOH nurses from Carbon, Beaver, Snyder and the Southeast District, Senators Timothy Solobay, John Wozniak, and State Reps Michael Hanna, Ted Harhai, and Pam Snyder, to halt the Corbett Administration’s plans to close 26 state health centers and furlough 26 community health nurses.

In response, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania appealed the injunction decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and requested that the Court enjoin that the state 1) refrain from closing any additional state health centers, 2)  re-establish State Health Centers in the counties in which they have been unlawfully closed; (3) restore the positions of Nurse Consultants that were eliminated; and (4) recall those nurses furloughed on or about June 7, 2013 as a result of the elimination of Nurse Consultant positions.”

The Supreme Court’s order issues a broad ruling, granting all parts of SEIU Healthcare PA’s request.

The state has already proceeded with the shuttering of state health centers including Carbon, Beaver, and Mifflin County  and 18 community health nurse positions have been eliminated, with nine community health nurses laid off and the remaining nurse positions moved into existing vacancies.  This ruling would require the state to reopen those health centers and reinstate the eliminated nurse positions pending appeal.

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