Drug addict gets help from Clarke

November 23, 1993|By Sandy Banisky | Sandy Banisky,Staff Writer

William Kemp, in search of treatment for his drug addiction, last week went straight to drug-policy specialist and mayor of Baltimore Kurt L. Schmoke. And the gambit seems to have worked: Mr. Kemp is getting help.

But not from the mayor.

While Mr. Schmoke was busy with such events as a conference on international drug policies, City Council President Mary Pat Clarke, Mr. Schmoke's declared opponent in the next election, was rescuing Mr. Kemp from the streets of Baltimore.

"Oh, no," an aide to Mr. Schmoke murmured when told of Mrs. Clarke's efforts yesterday.

Mr. Kemp, an addict for 26 years, says he needs methadone so he can get off the streets and hold a job. Stymied by waiting lists at city treatment programs, he hand-lettered a sign -- "Drug Addict/Need Help" -- and went last Wednesday to the Harbor Court Hotel, where Mr. Schmoke had convened a two-day conference on international drug policy. As the guests discussed drug programs, the mayor said he would send an aide out to talk to Mr. Kemp.

But nearly a week later, Mr. Kemp said no one from the mayor's office has tried to find him. "No one came to talk to me," he said yesterday. "No one called."

Mrs. Clarke, however, had an assistant track Mr. Kemp down Thursday morning, the day an article about Mr. Kemp and his plea for treatment appeared in The Sun.

Betty Deacon, the Clarke aide, said she found Mr. Kemp through his attorney, Peter Lewis. She also called the city health department to find what programs were available to Mr. Kemp and directed him to Graham-Melvin Associates Inc. in Columbia, which sends a van to Baltimore each day to carry patients to Howard County for methadone and counseling.

Fayanna Hodge, the Graham-Melvin director, said her for-profit program has an agreement with Baltimore's health department to treat city addicts.

The "intensive program," she said, requires addicts to take methadone daily and to appear for one individual counseling session plus three group sessions each week.

"It's not a gas-and-go operation," Ms. Hodge said. "It's monitored closely." If Mr. Kemp passes a medical evaluation, he probably will be permitted to enroll, she said.

Mr. Kemp's attorney, Mr. Lewis, said his client is investigating another program in the city as well as Graham-Melvin and will enroll in one of them as soon as he replaces his medical assistance card, stolen in a robbery two months ago.

Mr. Kemp said he's determined to get into treatment and stay off hard drugs. "I'm 41 years old. I can't be on the street anymore."

Mr. Schmoke's office had no comment yesterday on Mr. Kemp's problem.

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