State health officials have issued layoff notices to 33 employees of the Rosewood Center for developmentally disabled adults in Owings Mills, a state health department spokesman confirmed today.
State officials say the layoff notices issued yesterday are unrelated to the state's budget crunch, but a public employees union official contends they must be related because state officials previously had pledged there would be no layoffs.
The layoffs are part of a plan to reduce the size of Rosewood, the largest residential facility for the developmentally disabled in Maryland. A staff of 1,095 workers now cares for 470 developmentally disabled adults, said Mike Golden, spokesman for the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
State health officials have discharged or transferred more than 100 developmentally disabled adults in the past year, Golden said, because officials believed they could be better served in community-based programs.
Golden said the layoffs, which take effect in 90 days, cover a variety of job categories, including physicians, dietitians and direct-care workers.
Golden said the health department plans to reduce the staff to 860 by July 1992. He said he could not say whether there would be any more layoffs.
But William Bolander, executive director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 92, contended that state officials had previously said the facility was understaffed already, so no staff reductions would be needed when the number of residents was reduced.
"To me it's very, very clear that this is a direct cause of the budget cuts," Bolander added.
Golden acknowledged the no-layoff pledge. "We thought we could make up these reductions through attrition," Golden said. "But unfortunately, the economy being what it is, no one's leaving their jobs."
State officials had tried to close Rosewood before, but backed down under protests and pledged instead to reduce its size.