Residents back ban on Perkins transfers

January 28, 1993|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS -- South Carroll residents urged a House committee yesterday to support a measure that would prohibit criminally insane patients from being transferred from the Clifton T. Perkins State Hospital to regional facilities throughout the state.

Kathleen Horneman, who lives behind Springfield Hospital Center in Sykesville, told the Environmental Matters Committee that residents are concerned about former Perkins patients walking out of Springfield and into their neighborhood.

"It's an important issue for us," Ms. Horneman said. "We were told Springfield receives one to two patients from Clifton T. Perkins a month. Springfield isn't a security facility like Clifton."

Ms. Horneman and Mary Ellen Gearhart, who lives in the same Carrolltowne development, recounted several incidents of Springfield patients "literally stumbling into our neighborhood."

"It's a nightmare," Ms. Horneman said.

The bill, introduced by Del. Larry A. LaMotte, D-Carroll, Baltimore, would prohibit the state from transferring dangerous patients from the Perkins facility in Jessup to regional facilities.

"People who live there deserve to live in peace and security," he said of the residential communities around Springfield.

Mr. LaMotte said his proposal would not affect the state's proposed transfer of violent patients from the Rosewood Center in Baltimore County to Springfield and would not affect another rTC proposal to build a detention facility on the 400-acre site.

Mr. LaMotte said the measure was prompted out of concerns for Springfield's neighboring residents and hospital workers, who have complained about being unable to handle some patients and the lack of security at the facility.

Nobody from the Springfield facility testified before the committee.

Dr. Raymond Patterson, superintendent of the Clifton T. Perkins State Hospital, opposed the measure. He said it would hinder efforts to rehabilitate patients.

He also said regional hospitals are less secure than the Perkins facility but offer therapeutic settings for patients.

"We believe it is essential for regional hospitals to be a part of the [treatment] process," he said. "It allows us to determine whether patients are ready for the next step -- release."

Dr. David Helse, clinical director of Spring Grove State Hospital in Catonsville, also opposed the measure. He echoed Dr. Patterson's concerns about the rehabilitative process, and said regional hospitals have adequate security and are reasonably safe.

He said Spring Grove has had fewer than 30 walkaways and there have been no instances of trouble to neighbors. South Carroll residents said there have been about 60 walkouts from Springfield.

"I wouldn't want to live in an area with 60 elopements," said Del. Donald B. Elliott, R-Carroll, Howard. "I have a problem with this."

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