School for disturbed youths to move from Springfield to Anne Arundel Co.

December 10, 1992|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

The Muncie Adolescent Center and School for emotionall disturbed youths will move from Springfield Hospital Center to Crownsville Hospital Center on Jan. 18.

"The entire unit will move to Crownsville," said Paula Langmead, assistant superintendent at Springfield.

State budget cuts have forced the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which oversees the Sykesville school, to consolidate its services, said Mike Golden, department spokesman.

The residential unit includes 14 adolescents -- 13 to 17 years old -- with serious emotional problems, and a staff of 41 state-employed health care workers.

Many of the employees live in the Sykesville area, near the hospital, and are "angry and frustrated" about the commute of more than an hour to their new jobs in Anne Arundel County, said Ms. Langmead.

"They had little choice," she said. "It was either commute or terminate."

In an attempt to make the move as "comfortable as possible," a transition team from Crownsville met with the Muncie staff Tuesday.

"After the meeting, the staff was more resigned to the move," she said. "The Crownsville staff made them feel needed and welcome."

Youths are sent to Muncie from Carroll and several other Maryland counties. After the transfer, they will have access to the same services at Crownsville, where the state also operates Focus Point, a high-security residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed and violent teen-agers.

"The Muncie students will not be living with Focus Point youths, but they will partake of the same resources," said Ms. Langmead.

The move should not have any impact on the Level Five Intensity Program at Springfield, a school for about 10 "special needs" students from Carroll. The youths were described as "bright students who are just not able to make it in the mainstream of life."

The county Board of Education administers Level Five and paid $14,784 to lease 6,600 square feet of the Muncie building for the 1992-1993 school year.

"Muncie's closing won't make us dissolve our program," said Harry Fogle, county director of special education. "We will continue to use the site through June 1993. Then, if necessary, we will find other facilities in the county for our program."

Mr. Fogle said he planned to meet with Ms. Langmead today to discuss the county program in light of the move.

With Muncie's closing, 30 beds will become available for other patients at Springfield. The hospital is considering moving its deaf unit into the building, said Ms. Langmead.

Kathleen Horneman, a member of the newly formed South Carroll Coalition, said the group was concerned about the closing. Members, who live near the hospital, fear the state could use Muncie to house juvenile delinquents or patients with histories of violence, she said.

"We never had any problems with Muncie and are sad to see it close," she said. "Our group is opposed to housing delinquents and criminals in a county without an effective police force."

Several coalition members recently toured the grounds.

"There are 100 buildings and only eight are in use," she said. "The state can do whatever it wants with those empty buildings. In every direction we looked, escape would be easy."

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