Pennsylvania: Solving the guardianship challenge one group at a time
Tom Kashatus, the President of the White Haven Center Relatives and Friends Association, sought out to solve a problem that became apparent after the filing of a P&A filed lawsuit against Pennsylvania centers.
Although the case has taken a positive turn – a federal appeals court has agreed to allow families to intervene – the case brought to the forefront the vulnerability of residents who don’t have guardians. As filed, the lawsuit required that all residents who “did not oppose” be moved to smaller settings, even in situations where there was no family or guardian and the individual was unable to communicate. In these cases, silence was considered consent to move.
To help ensure that every resident was represented, Kashatus arranged for a group guardianship proceeding at White Haven Center. Thanks to the understanding of Judge Richard Hughes of Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas and the help of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania attorney Frank Hoegen and his paralegals, Mary Wargula and Angela Simko, the White Haven Center Relatives and Friends Association, Inc., a 501(c)3, is now the official guardian on record for those adjudicated by the court as requiring guardianship. Association members are assigned to individuals and have the responsibility to be sure there is someone knowledgeable about the desires and needs of these residents.
Prior to appointing guardianship, the Judge had to determine guardianship was appropriate. Attorney Charles Petrillo of Wilkes Barre served as court-appointed counsel for these residents for that purpose. “We couldn’t think of a better way for our Relatives and Friends group to carry out our mission on behalf of these residents,” said Kashatus who also praised the work of Judge Hughes, attorney Hoegen and his staff, and attorney Petrillo. “Without their cooperation and expertise, we could not have helped these residents who needed us.”
“We couldn’t think of a better way for our Relatives and Friends group to carry out our mission on behalf of these residents,” said Kashatus who also praised the work of Judge Hughes and attorney Hoegen. “Without their cooperation and expertise, we could not have helped these residents who needed us.”