Schaefer backs bill to notify partners of HIV patients Center proposed for long-term care

January 23, 1992|By Edward Gunts

The former North Charles General Hospital in Charles Village would be converted to a long-term residence and multiservice center for people with AIDS under one of three proposals for use of the vacant property being considered by state officials.

Maryland Lifelines, a non-profit group, proposed the center for people suffering from acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

The Maryland Health and Higher Educational Facilities Authority is working with the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions to select a buyer for the property on Charles Street between 27th and 28th streets. Hopkins closed it in phases during the spring and summer.

The other two proposals for the vacant hospital came from Sarkis K. Nazarian, head of the Baltimore Nursing and Convalescent Center in Bolton Hill, and Sheldon Glass, a psychiatrist and president of Glass Mental Health Centers, the largest private psychiatric service in Maryland.

According to Donald Carter, executive director of the Maryland health facilities agency, Mr. Nazarian wants to turn the old hospital into a nursing home with up to 203 beds.

Dr. Glass has proposed a "behavioral science research center that would be a national leader in urban psycho-social development," according to a prepared statement.

Kathy Baker, executive director of Maryland Lifelines, said at a meeting of the Charles Village Civic Association last night that her group wants to create what would be one of the nation's largest centers where people with AIDS could live, come for treatment or simply get together. "It's a different kind of concept," she said. "These folks have been wiped out financially and have no way to cope. This facility would provide a wide range of services in one location, where they can get the care they need."

But Ms. Baker said her project would provide a wider variety of services to outpatients through organizations such as the Health Education Resource Organization. Up to 60 apartments would be rented to people with AIDS.

Reaction from Charles Village residents was mixed. Some questioned whether the facility would become a magnet for drug abusers and how it would dispose of medical wastes -- issues that Ms. Baker said her group would address to the community's satisfaction. Others voiced strong support for the concept.

"I think this is one fantastic idea," said board member Wally Orlinsky. "It's something the city needs and ought to welcome. I'm glad someone had the guts to think about it."

Mr. Carter said his agency holds a mortgage on the North Charles property and needs to generate money from the sale to pay off the bondholders. He said the highest bid so far -- about $3.5 million -- came from Glass Mental Health Centers. The nursing home operator offered $2.75 million, and Maryland Lifelines offered $2.5 million, he said.

Mr. Carter said all three bids fell short of the outstanding debt on the building, which is about $10.8 million.

The Johns Hopkins Health System acquired the 213-bed hospital in 1985 and renamed it Homewood Hospital Center-South. Citing losses of more than $5 million and changing patient needs, officials announced plans last February to close it in phases.

Joann Rodgers, speaking for Hopkins, said its officials have not taken a position on the three proposals.

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