Harrisburg, PA - Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller today recognized the unshakeable commitment of commonwealth employees whose service and sacrifice have protected the lives, health and safety of individuals receiving care at Pennsylvania’s state hospitals, state centers and juvenile justice facilities during a public-health crisis that has disproportionately affected individuals in congregate-care settings and the essential workers who support them.
“As a Pennsylvanian, I am eternally grateful to the staff members at these facilities for their extraordinary efforts under unprecedented circumstances. As the secretary of the Department of Human Services, I could not be prouder of my colleagues for the incredible work they’ve done to continue providing exceptional service and support during this crisis,” Secretary Miller said. “Essential workers have been on the front lines of this pandemic since March, and we must not lose sight of the fact that this crisis is not over. DHS facility staff and other essential workers deserve not just our gratitude, but also our unwavering commitment to their safety and the safety of the people they care for every day.”
“Many commonwealth employees are among the thousands of front-line workers across Pennsylvania continuing to provide essential services during the pandemic,” said Secretary of Administration Michael Newsome. “Beyond saying thank you, one of the most impactful ways that we can show our appreciation is by doing our part to stop the spread of the virus by a wearing a mask, keeping our distance and washing our hands.”
More than 6,200 commonwealth employees work in 17 residential and therapeutic treatment facilities administered by DHS. The three program offices that administer the facilities are the Office of Children, Youth and Families (OCYF), Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) and Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS).
These include Pennsylvania’s four state centers, which serve individuals with intellectual disabilities; Pennsylvania’s six state hospitals, which provide comprehensive psychiatric treatment to people with mental illness; the South Mountain Restoration Center, a state-run long-term care facility operated by the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; and Pennsylvania’s youth development centers and youth forestry camps, which provide treatment, care and residential services to Pennsylvania's most at-risk youth.
Since COVID-19 was first detected in Pennsylvania in March, the individuals who work at these facilities have acted with fidelity to implement strategies recommended by public-health professionals to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 while continuing to provide high-quality treatment and therapeutic services to the individuals in their care.
“We have asked a lot of our DHS facility staff these past 10 months, and the reality of this pandemic means that we must continue asking them to go above and beyond their normal duties and responsibilities until COVID-19 fades into a bad memory. Until that time arrives, we must remain diligent in our efforts to prevent and contain the transmission of COVID-19 in our facilities and among the people in our care. This responsibility lies primarily with 6,200 commonwealth employees who go to work every day under stressful circumstances and at personal risk,” Secretary Miller said. “The Wolf Administration remains fully committed to supporting these employees in their work, providing adequate resources and implementing robust strategies that protect the lives, health and safety of everyone who depends upon us.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Erin James, DHS - firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan Egan, OA - 717-772-4237
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