Acting superintendent named head of hospital

November 15, 1994|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Sun Staff Writer

Paula A. Langmead, who has been acting superintendent of Springfield Hospital Center for more than a year, was named superintendent of the Sykesville facility yesterday.

Ms. Langmead took over the top post at the state psychiatric hospital in September 1993, after the resignation of Dr. Bruce Hershfield, who had been superintendent at Springfield since 1986.

"I'm just delighted to be given the opportunity to continue in the endeavors I've already started here at Springfield," Ms. Langmead, 46, said yesterday.

"Most important is to continue working with the employees. They are a very talented and dedicated group and overwhelmingly concerned with the needs of the mentally ill."

Another priority, she said, is improving the relationship between Springfield and the Sykesville community.

To that end, she recently met with a committee of residents to improve communication between the hospital and its neighbors. The committee plans to meet monthly with hospital staff to discuss aspects of mental illness and issues of concern, such as patient walk-offs.

Ms. Langmead was chosen from a field of 43 applicants for the Springfield superintendent position, said Archie Wallace, regional director for the Mental Hygiene Administration's Western Maryland region, who chaired the search committee.

The committee interviewed the top six applicants and forwarded the names of three to state Mental Hygiene Administration director Dr. Stuart B. Silver, who made the final selection, Mr. Wallace said.

"We know Paula, we know her work and in every respect she seemed like the right person for the job," Dr. Silver said.

John Winningham, chairman of Springfield's Citizen Advisory Board, said board members support Ms. Langmead's appointment.

"She has great empathy and compassion for mentally ill people and has an understanding of the problems of the families of those with mental illness," he said.

He said Ms. Langmead worked effectively with Springfield staff to ease the transition after Dr. Hershfield's departure.

"She's excellent at communicating with the staff and that has a major impact on morale, and good morale translates to good patient care," Mr. Winningham said.

Kathy Horneman, president of the South Carroll Coalition, a citizen action group, praised Ms. Langmead's work with the community.

"More than any other superintendent we've had in the past, she [Ms. Langmead] is much easier to work with and seems open to suggestions from the community," Ms. Horneman said.

Ms. Langmead came to Springfield in 1981 as the executive administrator to the assistant superintendent.

In 1984, she was appointed assistant superintendent, a position she held for nearly 10 years.

Ms. Langmead received a bachelor's degree in special education from Loyola College with a concentration on the emotionally disturbed. She also earned a master's degree in business from Loyola.

Dr. Silver said it is not unusual for a nonphysician to head a health care facility.

Only two of Maryland's 12 state psychiatric hospitals are headed by psychiatrists, he said.

"Paula has a very strong background in budgeting, and increasingly in health care that management experience is becoming important in this new environment we all live in," Dr. Silver said.

Ms. Langmead becomes superintendent of Springfield at a time of uncertainty for state psychiatric hospitals in central Maryland.

In March, a state task force recommended that one of the three state psychiatric hospitals in the region should be closed by 2000.

In addition to Springfield, the other hospitals under consideration for closure are Crownsville Hospital Center in Crownsville and Spring Grove Hospital Center in Catonsville.

Dr. Silver said he expects the task force to make its recommendation to state health officials by the end of the year.

Ms. Langmead said the uncertainty of Springfield's future will not affect her approach to running the hospital.

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