Psychiatric home for teen boys opens

April 20, 1994|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Sun Staff Writer

A new therapeutic group home for emotionally disturbed teen-age boys has opened on the grounds of Taylor Manor Hospital, a private psychiatric hospital in Ellicott City.

Re-Entry House is overseen by Maryland Alternative Care Inc., a new, nonprofit foundation formed by Dr. Neil Kirschner, director of adolescent services at Taylor Manor Hospital.

The program is for boys suffering from severe depression, mood swings or suicidal episodes. Up to eight teen-agers can stay at the home for three to nine months, depending on individual circumstances.

Aimed at youngsters ages 13 to 17, Re-Entry House is for those who need intensive therapy but not full hospitalization. Many will come from out-of-state residential and inpatient psychiatric centers.

"They don't need an acute inpatient setting, yet they're not quite ready to handle the regular community," Dr. Kirschner said.

The group home is among a handful of such programs in Maryland that offer therapeutic services to mentally ill teen-agers.

Situated in a secluded corner of the hospital grounds, the group home looks like a typical single-family house. Inside the front hall, a bulletin board welcomes residents. Yellow daffodils in glass jars line a dining room window.

The program is intended to strengthen each resident's ability to interact with others and function in the outside world.

Residents at the group home will share household chores, such as cooking and grocery shopping. As the youngsters gain more responsibility, they will be able to play on baseball teams and work as volunteers or in part-time jobs.

Each day, the boys attend school until 2:30 p.m. For those who have special education needs, middle and high school classes are offered at the hospital. Residents also visit outpatient therapists.

"It's a family atmosphere," Dr. Kirschner said. "There's the real emphasis on making them deal with community issues. The goal is to let them handle a less-structured community setting."

There will be "a lot of community involvement and participation," said Susan Daddio, director and case manager of Re-Entry House, citing chores and study visits to the local library.

Each boy will follow an individual treatment plan and will be rewarded for good behavior with free time and family visits. Once residents return home, program officials will monitor their progress.

If a boy has problems, officials will either hospitalize him for a few days or bring him back to the group home for a respite.

"We'll stick with these kids," Dr. Kirschner said. "We'll not give up easily."

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Department of Social Services finance the boys' stay at the group home, which costs $172 a day. The program cost Maryland Alternative Care Inc. about $4,000 to set up, Ms. Daddio said.

In order to make the group home more comfortable for the residents, program officials are looking for household items such as sports equipment, board games, books and storage containers for food. Further information on how to make a tax-deductible donation is available by calling Susan Daddio at 465-3322.

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