Omni House is cleared of charges But state review of group homes for mentally ill urged

October 24, 1992|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Deidre Nerreau McCabe,Staff Writer

A state investigation into an Anne Arundel County program for the seriously mentally ill, which was treating a client who held 11 hostages at knifepoint in a Glen Burnie bank last month, has found the program did not violate state regulations and will not be penalized.

However, the 13-page report concluded that the state should review its regulations for such community-based programs, "to ensure that the needs of the evolving patient population are met and . . . the community is adequately protected."

"We're obviously very pleased that the investigation found we were in compliance with all state regulations," said Susan Nathan, a lawyer representing Omni House.

"[This] is a very good program and we're glad we had a chance to prove it."

In August, an Omni patient -- who had once been charged with child sexual assault -- was forced by police to undergo a psychiatric evaluation after allegedly offering neighborhood boys money to accompany him into nearby woods. The patient, Charles E. Griffith, 31, had been living in an Omni apartment at

Cromwell Fountain Condominiums in Glen Burnie.

Less than four weeks later, Darrell T. Cornish, 26, who was living in one of Omni's residential apartments at Americana Southdale, walked away from the day program and held 11 people hostage at the Bank of Glen Burnie. Four hours into the ordeal, Mr. Cornish was shot in the shoulder by a police officer, ending the standoff.

Michael D. Golden, a spokesman for the state health department, acknowledged that community-based programs like Omni House, which help the mentally ill live as independently as possible, have had to take an increasing number of "difficult patients" in recent years.

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