$100,000 grant saves city detoxification center State provides a last-minute fiscal reprieve.

March 28, 1991|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,Evening Sun Staff

A well-used drug- and alcohol-detoxification center in Baltimore, slated to close because of budget problems, has received a last-minute financial reprieve from the state and is to remain open.

Only days before a planned shutdown, the Baltimore Recovery Center in the 1800 block of N. Gay St. yesterday received an emergency grant of more than $100,000 from the state health department, enough to keep it open at least through June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

The 20-bed unit provides detoxification services for drug and alcohol addicts, many of whom are either homeless or indigent. Most of the center's patients don't have any medical insurance and can not afford to pay for the treatment.

The unit had planned to lay off 13 employees and close for three months beginning at the end of March, said Betsy Horn, assistant director of the center. The unit stopped accepting new patients last Friday when it looked as if the government would provide no more money.

"We do not want the beds to be closed," said Howard R. Sampson, director of the state's drug and alcohol abuse administration. "They serve an indigent population. It's a necessary part of our services."

The emergency grant from the state is to allow the unit to stay open until July 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year, when more government grant money will be available.

The city this year gave the detox unit a grant of about $630,000. The unit, however, ran out of money after only nine months.

The detox unit's 20 beds are generally filled, Horn said. About 100 people a month have been going through the detoxification program, which generally lasts three to seven days.

Social service agencies and police often send patients to the unit. A large number of people also walk in on their own looking for help in beating drugs and alcohol.

While some hospitals in the city also provide detoxification services, none are geared up to accept any uninsured person off the street, as does the Baltimore Recovery Center, said Thomas Davis, director of the substance abuse bureau in the City Health Department.

"There's no way of knowing how many people will get into the hospital or won't," Davis said. "Or how many will just get disgusted that the system was not able to respond to them when they wanted help."

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