State health officials are working on changes that could send central Maryland teen-agers to Cumberland and bring Anne Arundel and Eastern Shore adolescents to Sykesville for inpatient mental health treatment.
The state Mental Health Administration, part of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, is shifting the areas served by adolescent units at state hospitals because of a change in the adolescent treatment program at Crownsville Hospital Center in Anne Arundel County.
Focus Point, a 24-bed unit at Crownsville, opened this month to treat emotionally disturbed 13- to 17-year-olds who need long-term care.
The program "is for emotionally disturbed adolescents who are often dual-diagnosed with psychiatric and substance-abuse problems," said James Stockdill, deputy director of mental hygiene. "These adolescents require long-term residential treatment in a secure setting."
The adolescent unit at Crownsville Hospital will not admit new patients needing short-term care from its service area -- Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties, the Eastern Shore and part of Baltimore City -- during the "transition period," Stockdill said. Short-term care usually lasts 30 days or less.
New patients from Crownsville's service area will be sent instead to Muncie Center, the adolescent unit on the grounds of Springfield Hospital Center in Sykesville, Stockdill said.
"Clearly, Muncie will be involved in some consolidation in patient units," he said. "I can't say, at this point, where its patients would be transferred."
He said state officials hope to have final decisions and a plan in place by September.
Unofficial word among members of Carroll County's mental health, alcoholism and drug abuse advisory committee last week was that new patients from Muncie Center's service area would be sent to the children's and adolescents' unit at the Thomas Finan Center in Cumberland. The unit has 18 beds and traditionally served teen-agers from western Maryland.
Muncie Center serves teen-agers from Carroll, Howard, Harford and Montgomery counties and part of Baltimore City not served by Crownsville.
For the Carroll office of the Juvenile Services Administration, the changes could mean longer travel time for staff who visit teen-agers placed at Finan Center.
"But that's not a big issue for us," said Carol Hyman, assistant director of community outreach for the juvenile services agency.
Hyman said confidentiality rules barred her from saying how many clients Juvenile Services has at the Muncie Center. But if those teen-agers are transferred, "the case managers will just visit them someplace else," she said.
Carroll County's public school system is to take over responsibility for education of Carroll students placed at Muncie Center, starting July 1, according to Cynthia Little, supervisor of guidance.
Little said the education program will serve emotionally disturbed students whose disabilities are too severe to allow them to spend even part of the day in regular classrooms. A behavior and learning program for less severely disturbed high school students will continue to operate at Francis Scott Key High School next year, she said.