After three months, the fight to keep the Warren State Hospital forensic unit has reached its unsuccessful end.
The last client left on Thursday.
The last day for staff was Friday.
The timing meets the end of October closure schedule set by the state Department of Public Welfare when the closure announcement was made in August.
The staff has dispersed. The unit employed 41 three months ago. The hospital's staff drops officially from 425 to 393 on Monday with the loss of the final 32 forensic unit jobs, Race said. In August there were 25 clients at the forensic unit. With that unit's closure, 169 residents remain at Warren State Hospital on the civil side of the operation.
An agreement between DPW and the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association (PSCOA) made several jobs at Torrance State Hospital's forensic unit in Westmoreland County available to local union members. "We have continued placement efforts for all affected WSH employees," DPW Director of Communications Michael Race said.
Some took those positions and some opted for other placements in the state system, according to Race. Other employees chose to retire or turned down the placement deal.
Union members were at the forefront of the effort to keep the unit open. Their efforts resulted in the collection of more than 1,700 signatures on petitions opposing the closure.
Most of the clients were moved to Torrance State Hospital's recently expanded forensic unit, according to Race.
"Those being treated at Warren who needed further treatment were moved to the forensic unit at Torrance State, which was part of our plan," he said. "Incoming clients could be treated at Torrance or the other remaining forensic unit at Norristown State Hospital."
"The consolidation of the forensic units went very smoothly - as evidenced in part by DPW beating our own Oct. 31 deadline - and the transition has gone well for both the clients and staff who moved to Torrance," Race said. "The smoothness of the transition was in large part due to the professionalism, cooperation and dedication of the staffs at Warren and Torrance."
The forensic unit was a medium security facility that provided psychiatric treatment and evaluation of people who are under criminal detention.
"DPW also is working with counties to increase options for court evaluations to be done locally, thereby avoiding the need for an admission to a forensic unit for those only in need of an evaluation," Race said.
"There are no immediate plans for the building, which is in need of repair and upgrades," Race said. "Typically, any sale or disposal of state property is done through the Dept. of General Services."