Mental health care is disappearingRecently a six-year-old...


June 26, 1996

Mental health care is disappearing

Recently a six-year-old boy was handcuffed at school by a police officer and driven to the hospital after he hit his teacher repeatedly and then butted his head into the assistant principal's face.

The focus of The Sun news story on June 11 was on the family's outrage at this mistreatment of their child, who was already identified as having emotional problems.

The story quoted family members as saying their child sees a psychiatrist and a psychologist once a month and takes medication twice a day. This was stated as if monthly meetings were sufficient to meet this child's needs.

There was no questioning of this fact despite the family's reports that the child had long-standing problems since pre-kindergarten and clearly was not getting better.

Most people might wonder why this child was not seeing the psychiatrist and psychologist more frequently, especially in light of the seriousness and chronic nature of his problems.

However, in today's world of managed care, it is not uncommon for children with serious emotional problems to receive minimal care to save health care dollars. Managed care companies and HMOs restrict the number of therapy sessions, refer only to groups or brief therapies and avoid necessary inpatient treatment, reducing stays to days.

Unfortunately, children like the six-year-old in your news story may ultimately cost our society more if they don't get intensive help now.

Currently, the community mental health centers are being privatized and medical assistance patients will be monitored by managed care systems. Will this make the system more efficient or will it create profits for private companies without providing adequate care to children?

The public needs to be aware of these changes and not ignore them as our future depends on how we are raising our children and addressing their needs.

Diana Sokal, M.D.

Owings Mills

Design improvements proposed for stadium

I couldn't agree more with your June 4 editorial position that the proposed design of the new football stadium leaves a lot to be desired.

As a structure it does little to relate to its surroundings, to Baltimore, to the football team it will be housing or to the game of football. Even worse, unlike Oriole Park at Camden Yards, as a work of architecture it is banal and forgettable. If it is constructed as presently designed, it will surely diminish the reputation of the city of Baltimore, its leaders, and HOK, the architects who have designed it.

Accepting that there are very real time and architectural constraints and differences between what is needed at Camden Yards and the needs of this or any other football stadium, nevertheless, there are still many relatively simple design changes that could be made that not only make an architectural statement as strong as that of Camden Yards but would also allow the architects to retain those functional features for the present design they feel essential.

Allow me to offer two simple suggestions:

Make it all black. Build the structure completely out of black anodized steel, black glass, black brick, black concrete and shiny black stainless steel. Add a few touches of chrome, just for contrast, and voila, Darth Vader as a football stadium.

Give it wings. Just as the architects did in Hong Kong, they could add two huge, black, winglike tents to the sides of the existing design. These would not only serve the practical purpose of providing cover in bad weather, but would also reflect the tent on Pier 5, across the harbor.

These two small changes would inexpensively transform the present boring design into one that is unique and memorable and perfectly suited to the limitations of the problem . . .

Edwin Gold


Register of Wills carries out laws

Michael Olesker's May 31 column criticizing procedures in the office of the Register of Wills, can best be responded to as follows: The fact is that our legislature has made certain that our law protects heirs and survivors of decedents whether they did or did not leave a will.

Here in the Register of Wills office of Baltimore City, we have always been and will continue to be dedicated to carrying out the mandates of the law.

If any credence can be given to the Olesker version of what happened to Bernard MacKenzie, it should be noted that Mr. MacKenzie was attempting to follow up on a written communication he received from the city's Central Payroll Office -- not the register's office. Nevertheless, as with all persons seeking information from us, we attempt to put the inquirer on the right track for relief, even if we are not able to give the requested help.

I have no knowledge of Mr. Olesker speaking to me or anyone else capable of interpreting policies and practices in our office.

It should be noted that our office does not "set" fees; we inform applicants of fees the legislature has fixed for certain services, regardless of the size of the funds being administered.

We certainly do not quote fees for services performed by other agencies, such as the Central Payroll Department.

Mary W. Conaway


The writer is Register of Wills for Baltimore City.

Pub Date: 6/26/96

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