In Berks County, Pennsylvania, WFMZ-TV Channel 69
- Families met at the Hamburg State Center on Wednesday [January 18] for what they called a very emotional meeting about its closing.
"People crying, people yelling, people just demanding. It was crazy in there," said Lynette Gearhart, the sister of a woman living at the center.
Families said they received a call and a letter last week about the closure. The meeting on Wednesday aimed to explain the decision. Future meetings will take place monthly for more information.
"They were talking about our options, and we pretty much already know that our options are either a group home or a nursing home," said Janene Coehler, the sister of a woman in the center.
The Hamburg Center houses people with mental disabilities. The state Department of Human Services said the closure will reintegrate these people into society and most will go to smaller group homes.
Frances Cramer is distraught. Her daughter lives there.
"What is going to happen to my daughter when I'm gone? I'm just beside myself. This is very, very upsetting. I cannot handle this," said Cramer.
Cramer lives in a senior center and can't bring her daughter home. The state DHS said no families will be forced to take relatives home. The population in state centers has drastically decreased, so families of the 80 residents here will get to pick individualized care plans.
"They're going to have future meetings where they're going to have these representatives here from these places to answer questions also," said Lynetter Gearhart.
Some 350 employees will lose their jobs, but state officials said they'll try to move employees elsewhere.
"The staff members, they all love these people to death, and I know they're not going to get the same kind of TLC that they got at Hamburg," Cramer said.
A public hearing is set for January 30 from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. at the Hamburg Borough Building. There, families will have the chance to voice their opposition.
"We will be there and we will be very loud," Coehler said.