Parties seeking to halt the closing of 26 public state health centers and eliminate 73 Department of Health positions have been denied a preliminary injunction by Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Court.
The court has yet to decide the case, as the hearing will proceed in upcoming weeks. The plaintiffs — Service Employees International Union Healthcare Pennsylvania, DOH nurses and five legislators — said in a news release that they are considering additional options including appealing the injunction decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
"Today's court's ruling moves Pennsylvania's public healthcare system in the wrong direction, representing the latest blow to the steady erosion of funding for Pennsylvania's public healthcare delivery," said Sue Templin, a school health nurse consultant in the South Central District. "Rather than further limiting services we need the Corbett Administration to expand state funding to give Pennsylvanians the level of public health services they deserve."
SEIU said the plan as originally announced in February was slated to occur in two phases, with March 29 as the deadline for seven centers to close and the 73 employees to be eliminated. The other 19 centers, out of a total of 60, were to close by May 31. The lawsuit's focus is steps taken toward closing the centers, given that the centers were authorized by law and Gov. Tom Corbett's proposal to reduce funding for the operation of state health centers and staffing in his 2013-14 budget has not been approved by the General Assembly.