This week, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services held public hearings to gather feedback about the recent announcement to close Hamburg Center and Norristown State Hospital due to budget shortfalls. SEIU HCPA member nurses from both hospitals testified about the real reasons for the closures – the absence of Republican leadership to raise the revenue we need from big businesses and the fracking industry to maintain the services for our most vulnerable patients.
On Monday in Hamburg, so many people showed up the crowd overflowed into the hall. Hamburg Center nurse and chapter president, Dave Peters, spoke about the special care so many of Hamburg’s patients require and are unlikely to find in community-based settings.
“To move these aged, medically needy people from the only home they have ever known, from where they have grown up and lived most of their lives would be a travesty. The transfer trauma of a healthy geriatric person is high; therefore, many of our residents would be receiving a death sentence, and the survivors would spend their last days of their life broken-hearted, missing their lifelong roommates and their caregivers, who have become their family.”
Toby Powell, a nurse at Hamburg Center, reminded the Department of Human Services officials that the residents have a home and a community.
“When we talk about the word community, we should also talk about the community these people have had for all their lives,” said Oliver Powell, a nurse at the Hamburg Center. “Let’s also consider the community that they already have.”
You can read more about the hearing in Hamburg here.
On Tuesday in Norristown, another hearing was held regarding plans to close the civil side of Norristown State Hospital. Gary Margulis a Clinical Nurse Specialist made sure to bring up the reason behind the recent closures of state correctional institutions and state hospitals.
“First and foremost I’d like to make it very clear that the only reason we are having this hearing is because the legislature in Harrisburg has failed in its duty to adequately fund the vital services we need and deserve in Pennsylvania. The legislature’s refusal to pass sensible revenue increases has forced Governor Wolf and his staff into the difficult position of trying to balance a budget by cutting spending and services.”
SEIU nurses at Hamburg Center and Norristown State Hospital look forward to engaging with the Wolf administration and the state legislature over the coming months to discuss long-term solutions for residents and employees. We believe that future discussions must place successful outcomes for residents in the center of the debate, as well as a meaningful dialogue about how to responsibly fund our state services for future years. As we look forward to another season of budget debate, it is imperative that SEIU nurses and other caregivers be a part of the conversation and make our voices heard to state legislators.
To get involved in planned lobby visits and other activities, please contact Neal Manning at Neal.Manning@seiuhcpa.org.