Rehab center to bear Schaefer name


September 29, 1994|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,Sun Staff Writer

After having an office tower, airport terminal and several campus buildings named after him, Gov. William Donald Schaefer will soon be able to visit a hospital wing bearing his name as well.

The University of Maryland Medical System is about to begin construction of the William Donald Schaefer Rehabilitation Center at Kernan, a $30 million, 128-bed medical facility on the grounds of the James Lawrence Kernan Hospital near Woodlawn.

The two-level building will replace Montebello Rehabilitation Hospital on Argonne Drive, the state's largest and only free-standing rehabilitation facility.

The University of Maryland Medical System, which oversees both Kernan and Montebello, plans to combine their functions at the Schaefer center once it opens in early 1996.

"Montebello offers terrific, high-quality service, but the facility itself is outdated both in terms of aesthetics and design," said Morton I. Rapoport, president and chief executive officer of the medical system.

"The new building at Kernan will offer Maryland residents the most modern rehabilitation facility available in the region."

RTKL Associates of Baltimore has designed the building to rise just south of the existing Kernan hospital at 2200 N. Forest Park Ave. in West Baltimore.

It will contain separate rehabilitation areas for treatment of traumatic brain injury, stroke, orthopedics, and spinal cord or other neurological injury. Gymnasiums, a hydrotherapy pool and a conference center are included in the building's plan, along with areas for dentistry and prosthetics.

RTKL designed the building to reflect the character of a 150-year-old mansion that occupies the highest point on the Kernan site. A new campus plan calls for a central green space in front of the mansion, which is used for offices.

A childhood friend of John Wilkes Boothe, James Lawrence Kernan was well known in Baltimore as a hotelier and burlesque house operator who built the old Kernan Hotel and gave generously to charitable organizations.

He bought the hospital property in 1907 to serve as a home for the Hospital for the Relief of Crippled and Deformed Children. That hospital was later renamed for Mr. Kernan.

The 85-acre campus was selected for the combined operation because it is more accessible to regional highways and has more room for expansion than the Montebello site.

Montebello opened in 1924 as the Sydenham Hospital, a 140-bed facility run by Baltimore to provide free care and confinement for patients with polio, measles, whooping cough and other communicable diseases. After it became a state hospital in 1953, its name was changed to Montebello to reflect the nearby lake. It became part of the private University of Maryland Medical System in 1992.

The state will take over the Montebello property for office use, possibly by Morgan State University, which is nearby.

The merger of Kernan and Montebello is expected to save the medical system about $3.5 million a year in operating expenses, officials say.

The state has granted $15 million to help build the Schaefer Rehabilitation Center. The remaining funds will be financed by the medical system.

Edith Wharton lecture

Evergreen House will present an illustrated lecture about author Edith Wharton and the importance of architecture as a symbol in her life and work, on Oct. 7 at 11 a.m. at Evergreen's Far East Room, 4545 Charles St.

Eleanor Dwight, author of the recently published biography, "Edith Wharton: An Extraordinary Life," will be the guest speaker. The program also includes a luncheon and an exhibit of Wharton books and letters. For reservations, call 516-0341.

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