Warren State Hospital

Picture of the main entrance of the Warren State Hospital.Warren State Hospital welcomes you…

Warren State Hospital is dedicated to providing the best opportunity for recovery to persons admitted for treatment. Furthermore, we realize the importance of families or significant others in an individual’s response to treatment, as well as their important role in the person's support system. Therefore, with the individual's permission, the hospital makes every effort to include families in treatment and discharge planning activities. This commitment to quality psychiatric care and family involvement in treatment is reflected in our mission statement.

We also know the importance of continuity of care in ensuring the shortest stay possible and the continuation of needed care and support after discharge from the hospital. Discharge planning even begins before the individual's admission and continues throughout their hospitalization, ending with an individualized aftercare plan that guides the person's return to community living. This comprehensive aftercare plan ensures the identification of needed services and supports after discharge. It also designates who is responsible for providing each service. This aftercare plan is then monitored by the county mental health program and modified or revised as needed to facilitate the person's long-term adjustment to community living.

In providing care, Warren State Hospital is just one component in a continuum of comprehensive care that is available to residents of northwestern Pennsylvania with persistent and serious mental illness. Our responsibility to people who need our services and support is to provide the most current and effective inpatient treatment interventions and psycho-rehabilitation activities that will promote recovery. Community services for persons with serious mental illness have improved steadily over the past decade and as a result fewer and fewer persons need our level of care, which is certainly gratifying. However, should anyone need longer-term inpatient care, the staff of Warren State Hospital and I want to assure you that we will provide the best care possible and work as hard as we can to return you as quickly as possible to family, community and to a productive and satisfying life.

Charlotte M. Uber, LSW
Chief Executive Officer

Admission Process

Individuals admitted to Warren State Hospital must come directly from an in-patient hospitalization at a community hospital. Admission referrals from the general public are not accepted. If the treating physician at the community hospital determines that the patient requires longer-term psychiatric treatment, a referral is initiated by the community hospital with the approval of the appropriate county mental health program.

Referrals are accepted from the following counties: Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, McKean, Mercer, Potter, Venango and Warren.

Admission Staff

Chief Admission's Officer: Pam Shaffer, Director Social Services
Admission Coordinator: Martha Christensen, (814) 726-4415
Alternate Admission Coordinator: Tom Bostjancic, (814) 726-4186

Location of Admissions Department/Unit

The Admissions Office is located in Room 118, Center Building. The address for the Admissions Office is:

Social Service Department
Warren State Hospital
33 Main Drive
North Warren, PA 16365
Attention: Admission Officer

Hours of Operation and Contact Information

Social Work staff is available weekdays. The Admissions Coordinator can be reached by calling (814) 726-4415 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to answer questions about admission procedures.

Visiting Guidelines

Visiting hours are normally 9 a.m. - 8 p.m. It is appreciated if visitors do not arrive during patient meal periods, which are between 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. - 6 p.m. We encourage you to visit your relative within the following guidelines:

  1. Children are welcomed as long as they are supervised by a responsible adult. No children under the age of 15 are to visit on ward areas. Off-unit visitation areas are available for this purpose. Time will be limited to 30-45 minutes.
  2. Arrangements for visiting are made by contacting the individual's social worker, nurse or doctor. It is advisable to call in advance of a planned visit to ensure that the individual is not involved in a treatment program at that time.
  3. Under some circumstances, some visitors may be restricted. If this is the case, the reason for the restriction will be explained to the visitor.
  4. Visits outside of normal visiting hours must be approved by the shift/unit supervisor. It is preferred that the visitor make arrangements in advance when visits are requested outside of normal business hours.

Phone Calls:

A phone is available on every ward for individual use where local calls are without charge. All individuals must assume responsibility for any long distance charges. Individuals are not permitted to make or receive calls on ward phones between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. In case of emergency families must phone the ward office.

Patient's Rights

In providing quality care to individuals, Warren State Hospital is committed to protecting the rights of the people we serve. In fact, protection of rights is one of our strongest organizational values. We want all individuals to be treated with dignity and respect. We want the people we serve to know their rights and to have both informal and formal means to express their complaints and grievances with the hospital. We want to be responsive and sensitive to their complaints. In fulfilling this commitment to protect an individual's rights, we have committed resources, instituted proactive measures and implemented numerous safeguards.

Among these are:

  • Employing a Client Rights Representative (CRR) who is independent of the hospital administration
  • Independent monitoring of the rights protection program by the Human Rights and Advocacy Committee (HRAC) whose membership includes non-employees as well as employees
  • Implementing a formal and informal complaint process that is directed and monitored by the CRR and HRAC
  • The CRR attends and monitors all CSP meetings to ensure they are client-centered, recovery-oriented and a positive experience for the individual
  • Providing regular training to all hospital employees on individual rights
  • Ensuring that individuals and their families are informed of the rights upon admission
  • Granting the CRR executive staff status to enable him/her to have direct access and influence on hospital policies and operating an abuse investigation system to investigate allegations of abuse.

Furthermore, the Patient Bill of Rights, as outlined in the Title 55 of the Pennsylvania Code, is posted on each ward, along with information on how to contact the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania and the Bureau of Equal Opportunity. These agencies also provide oversight of our rights protection program and have the capabilities to conduct independent investigations of complaints filed by individuals or their families. In addition to providing each individual with a copy of their rights, the CRR meets with individuals shortly after their admission to educate them on their rights, to explain the grievance/complaint process and to answer any questions they may have regarding their rights. Throughout their hospitalization, individuals have immediate access to the CRR. The CRR is also available to assist families with any concerns or complaints they may have regarding the care and treatment of their relative. The CRR provides direct assistance to individuals in resolving complaints and follows-up as needed to insure the matter has been resolved to the person's or family's satisfaction.

Patient Programs

Currently, Warren State Hospital offers a wide variety of treatment, rehabilitation and educational programs to patients on the hospital's treatment areas: General Population [North Center and South Center] and the Special Care Unit. Individual programs and services are designed to meet identified needs and to directly contribute to fulfilling Warren State Hospital's mission and broad goals of providing all individuals with the highest quality programs, services that promote recovery, and return to community living as quickly as possible.

The numerous programs and treatment services available to individuals that promote recovery from serious mental illness are divided into four broad categories. These are: treatment services, psychosocial and vocational rehabilitation programs, educational programs, and social/recreational programs. With the exception of some social-recreational activities, all programs provided to the people we serve are integrated into their individualized, comprehensive treatment plans. Therapeutic, educational and rehabilitative programs most often provide the means by which individuals achieve specific short- term and long-term treatment goals that will enable them to return to the most appropriate community care setting.

Treatment Services:

These are services that are directed at alleviation of the positive symptoms of serious mental illness. These symptoms can include: perceptual disturbances, thought disturbances and/or disturbances of mood or affect. Treatment services are also directed at reduction of negative symptoms such as lack of motivation, neglect of self, poor social skill and/or withdrawal from family and friends. An important of all treatment programs for persons with serious mental illness is psychopharmacology or the prescribing of medications that directly target both the positive and negative symptoms of serious mental illness. The individual's psychiatrist prescribes and monitors the effects and outcomes of medications. In most cases, individuals respond positively to their medications, which opens the door to recovery and rehabilitation and return to community living.

Numerous other treatment programs are provided by clinical staff and are based upon an individual needs. Some of these include: individual psychotherapy, cognitive remediation, cognitive remediation, behavioral development, coping with stress, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, discharge readiness and peer support. WSH also offers clinical pathways for Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Metabolic Syndrome: Prevention and Management, PennMAPS and persons with depression.

For individuals who have experienced difficulties with substance abuse, the hospital, through its certified addictions counselors, offers drug and alcohol treatment that utilizes an educational approach to help participants acquire the skills and knowledge needed to prevent relapse.

Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Vocational Programs:

Warren State Hospital provides numerous rehabilitation programs that promote recovery and assist persons in returning to their communities as quickly as possible with the skills needed for the most independent functioning possible. Many of the psychosocial rehabilitation and educational programs for individuals are offered through the hospital's Recovery Center. The Recovery Center is a centralized program area where individuals can attend classes and programs prescribed by their Individualized Treatment Plan (ITP) to meet their current needs. Examples of programs available on the Recovery Center are: Basic Coping Skills, Boundaries, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Social Enhancements, Mindfulness, Understanding Mental Illness, Self-Discovery, and Healthy Relationships.

In addition, the Warren State Hospital provides basic work adjustment through its Sheltered Employment Program. The employment center provides individuals with a work experience that is quite similar to that found in production-based competitive employment situations. Individuals participating in this program undergo a basic work adjustment and work skill evaluation that serves as the basis for the establishment of work skill and work habit development. Workers are paid on a piece rate or hourly basis for their work. A Job Recovery Program gives individuals the opportunity to work in areas of interest around the hospital; including the library, café, garage, dietary, and custodial.

Individuals have access to a wide variety of Therapeutic Recreation programs that are directed at meeting an individual’s needs for increases in social interaction, group interaction skills, recreational interests/skills, and social skills. These programs include: Leisure Skills Development, On The Move, Art Therapy, Movies Shape Our World, Therapeutic Drumming, Social Options, Physical Wellness, Treatment Reintegration, Stepping Stones, and Music Therapy.

The Special Care Unit treats individuals whose conditions are complicated by the aging process, posttraumatic brain injury, or other serious neurological impairments. Individuals on this treatment unit not only receive active psychiatric treatment services, but are also provided highly specialized programs and services directed at building sensory and motor functions that are impaired due to the aging process, brain trauma, or other serious neurological conditions. These specialized programs include sensory skill development, re-motivation therapy, pet therapy, managing life changes, speech and language development, reality orientation, physical therapy and exercise/range of motion training, current events, arts and crafts, and music therapy.

Speech, Hearing and Language (SHL) services are available for individuals who are identified as having significant impairment in language skills or who have hearing impairments that impede daily functioning. SHL services provide persons in need with individual and group programs and therapy that will enable them to improve their basic communication skills, thereby, improving their social adjustment and self-management. SHL also coordinates services for individuals with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) at WSH.

Educational Programs:

To assist persons with recovery from serious mental illness, the hospital provides individuals with many educational programs to increase their level of basic knowledge and information needed for self-management after discharge from the hospital. These programs include: Symptom Management, Medication Education, Solutions for Wellness, Nutrition Education and Activities of Daily Living. In addition, the hospital provides individuals with an Adult Basic Education program. In this program, individuals not only engage in remedial education according to their assessed needs, but also are given the opportunity to learn basic computer skills. The Intermediate Unit provides educational services to individuals between the ages of 18 and 21 who have not achieved a high school diploma in order to provide educational enrichment.

Social-Recreational Programs:

Since each individual's length of stay at Warren State Hospital typically approaches several weeks, the hospital provides numerous social and recreational activities. These not only provide individuals with wholesome activities, but also opportunities to develop recreational interests that have carry-over value and improve their physical fitness. The hospital maintains four bowling alleys specifically for the people we serve. There are numerous parties, picnics, and dances as well as, frequent trips to various recreational areas and activities near the hospital. Examples of other social-recreational programs are: weight training, arts and crafts, Tai Chi, sing-a-long/karaoke, golf, bocce ball, movies, and fishing.

Cultural and Religion Sensitivity:

In addition to the four categories of programs provided to the people we serve, all individuals have the right to worship and practice their religious beliefs at the hospital. Chaplains from the Protestant and Catholic faiths, a Jewish Rabbi, and an Imam are available to assist individuals in practicing their respective religions. In addition, individuals have ready-access to pastoral counseling. For individuals whose faith/religion is outside the traditional denominations, the hospital's Culturally Appropriate Treatment and Services Committee works with the individual and his or her treatment team to ensure that the person's religious needs are met.

Warren State Hospital also respects the cultural diversity, heritages and beliefs of all individuals. This requires that our staff identify, with individuals, the cultural influences, needs, norms and beliefs that are important to them and to assist them in whatever way possible in conforming to these throughout their hospitalization. This means that individuals must be given the opportunity and support needed to adhere to their cultural beliefs. It also means that treatment, provided for the people we serve, must respect and be sensitive to their individual cultural needs.


From Erie: I-79 S to I-90 W to I-86 E to Rt. 60 S (Jamestown, NY exit) to 62 S (Warren)

From Mercer area: I-80 E to Rt. 8 N to Rt. 62 N to Rt. 6 W (Warren)

From southeast Pennsylvania: I-80 W to Pennfield Exit to Rt. 153 N to Rt. 219 N to Ridgway Rt. 948 N to Sheffield Rt. 6 W to Warren

When you arrive in Warren take Rt. 62 N (also Market Street extension) and look for WSH signs.

For more detailed information you can visit commercial map and direction services on the Web or call the Business Office at Warren State Hospital at 814/726-4478.

Employment Opportunities

Warren State Hospital provides a variety of employment opportunities. For specific information regarding current and future openings please contact:

Human Resource Department
Warren State Hospital
33 Main Drive
North Warren, PA 16365
Telephone: 814-726-4219
Contact Person: Nancy Saullo, HR Director

Or visit the State Civil Service Commission website at www.scsc.state.pa.us for additional information.

We're always looking for Registered Nurses who are dedicated to the Psychiatric care of adults with Mental Illnesses. For great Nursing Career opportunities visit the Department of Health website.

History of Warren State Hospital

Warren State Hospital was one of the first large mental hospitals to be built exactly following the "Kirkbride Model." The Kirkbride Model was named after Dr. Thomas Kirkbride, who in the middle of the 19th century designed mental hospital buildings in a manner that permitted natural sunlight to enter in each room sometime each day. Another feature of a Kirkbride building is that it had its own natural air conditioning, using venting towers to pull air up and through each room in the building. Furthermore, Kirkbride paid much attention to the grounds surrounding his buildings. This often included landscaping with shrubbery and trees in a park-like setting with fountains and tree-lined drives.

Center Building at Warren State Hospital was designed by Kirkbride and originally built to accommodate 650 patients. It has all of the features listed above, i.e. rooms open to sunlight each day, natural air conditioning, fountains at the main entrance, a tree-lined entrance and pleasant landscaping. The cornerstone for Center Building was laid on Sept 10, 1874.

The construction was long and tough. The cellars were all dug by hand. Single horse-driven carts were used to move the stone from the quarry to the building site, more than a mile away. Nineteen loads of stone and one of sand was considered a good day's work. Every stone used in the construction was hauled to the masons in wheelbarrows. Most of the sixteen million bricks were manufactured, shaped, and fired on the site, including rounded bricks and keystones. As walls went up, one mason worked on the outside to every two bricklayers working on the inside wall. Six men were hired to do nothing but sharpen the stonemasons' tools. Construction started at opposite ends of the building and worked towards the center. The towers on the front of Center Building were built last and horses were used to hoist these final stones.

The State Hospital for the Insane at Warren, PA, as it was named, admitted its first patient on Dec 5, 1880. Dr. John Curwen was the first full time superintendent.

From the beginning, the State Hospital was at the forefront of treatment for persons with mental illness. It opened an outpatient clinic in 1885 for people who did not need to be hospitalized and a free clinic was offered two times a month for people who could not pay. At about the same time, a patients' library was established, recreation therapy was instituted and an art teacher was hired. Dr. Curwen retired in 1900 at the age of 79.

Other superintendents continued to make changes. Individuals were provided the most current treatments and activities such as fishing, picnics, annual 4th of July outings (which were held on the islands in the Conewango Creek), and an annual Christmas party. A baseball team was formed and it played against local teams. Also, Annual Field Days became a big event for individuals in which they participated in a variety of competitive games and events.

The hospital was self-sustaining in that it raised its beef cattle, managed a prize-winning dairy herd, grew and packed its own vegetables. It also had a laundry, bakery and large kitchen. In fact, money from oil, which was discovered on the land, was used to enlarge the farmland. Patients were involved in "Industrial Therapy" and in doing so, provided much of the labor for the farm operations, laundry, cannery, grounds keeping, and cleaning.

In 1901 a school for nurses was opened. In 1903 the first class graduated. The school was closed in 1936. By 1916, the patient population had grown to 1,116 individuals.

Through the years, the hospital changed with the times. The population continued to grow and more buildings were erected to accommodate these additional individuals. In 1920, the name was changed to Warren State Hospital.

Other changes included:

  • A psychiatric residency program, accredited by the American Medical Association, was established and trained many psychiatrists until closing in the mid-1980's.
  • A psychiatric technician program was started to better train direct care staff.
  • Statistics kept by the hospital beginning in the early 1950's demonstrated that the majority of persons hospitalized at Warren State Hospital were successfully discharged to community living. These statistics were instrumental in getting congressional funding to start the National Institute for Mental Health.
  • A gymnasium/auditorium, capable of seating 1,100, was built for patients.
  • The de-institutionalization movement started by the Community Mental Health Act of 1963 eventually resulted in the discharge of many persons from Warren State Hospital during the 1970's. In 1963, there were about 2,600 individuals at the hospital. By 1980, the number of individuals was about 1,900 with continued reduction continuing through the 1980's, resulting in approximately 600 persons remaining by 1990.
  • A treatment unit was established to meet the special needs of adolescents.
  • In 1970, construction was completed on the Institute for Geriatric Research, which was later renamed the Israel Building, after long-time superintendent Robert Israel.
  • A Forensic Unit was opened to provide inpatient psychiatric care and competency evaluations for inmates in jails across the hospital's catchment area. The Forensic Center was later renamed to the Warren State Hospital Regional Forensic Center (RFPC). The RFPC was consolidated with Torrance State Hospital’s RFPC with an effective date of October 31, 2010.
  • A research program for geriatric studies was funded at the hospital by the commonwealth for many years. Lead researcher Dr. Phillip Swartz made several important discoveries in brain physiology and pathology. The program was discontinued in the mid-1970's.
  • Warren State Hospital was the first hospital to erect a building using both state and private monies. This was the Inter-faith Chapel and today both patients and community members worship together at Protestant, Catholic and Jewish services.
  • The hospital was the first one in Pennsylvania to successfully complete a large community-hospital integration project. Ultimately, from 1993 to 1996, approximately 140 individuals from Erie County were successfully returned to community living with funds being transferred from the hospital's budget to the mental health budget of Erie County to support their care.
  • The hospital initiated a policy of leasing surplus buildings to community human service agencies, which resulted in nearly 30 such agencies moving onto hospital grounds.

Many changes have taken place at Warren State Hospital over the past 127 years, but throughout its history, it has been committed to providing the best care possible to the individuals served and to being a leader in treatment of persons with serious mental illness. Today, the hospital has the ability to serve 225 patients and remains an integral and important component in the continuum of care for persons with serious mental illness who reside in northwestern Pennsylvania. The hospital's service area encompasses the following counties: Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, McKean, Mercer, Potter, Venango and Warren.