Albert finds new work Councilwoman retired from state in Jan., lands job near home

Adult services project

She'll be involved in helping elderly with assisted-living housing

March 09, 1998|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Westminster Councilwoman Suzanne P. Albert was looking for a job closer to home when she saw the advertisement for one right down her alley at the other end of town.

By late May, Albert expects to be working in Westminster for the nonprofit Family and Children's Services of Central Maryland Inc. after it moves into the renovated West End School building.

Albert retired from the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on Jan. 6 after more than three decades working in government health programs. At the time, she was chief of the department's Division of Rabies and Vector-borne Diseases, including the Lyme disease program.

"I was looking for something closer to home," Albert said of her new job, "and I just saw it in the paper. It was a perfect continuation, to contribute my expertise and skills to my community. I really wanted to do that."

Three days after she left her state job, the 65-year-old registered nurse and health-care specialist was at work in Sykesville for the private, nonprofit group as the new director of its South Carroll Adult Day Care Center.

The turn-of-the-century schoolhouse will have an adult-services facility and eight low-income, assisted-living apartments for the elderly, Albert said. It also will house the program's headquarters and a home health-aide program.

"We are going to be expanding our daytime program, and the apartments will be something completely new," said Albert. "These elderly people need low-income housing."

The project will enable Family and Children's Services to double its daytime capacity to 40 participants a day, said Albert, who is also certified in community- and occupational-health nursing.

A Willis Street resident, Albert serves as the council liaison on the planning and zoning commission and heads its committee on public improvements. She receives complaints from residents about streets, alleys, sidewalks, buildings, grounds and natural resources. She also serves as a member of the public safety and personnel committees.

She abstains from council votes involving the West End renovation.

Albert, who won her seat on Westminster's Common Council in 1995, plans to run for a second term next year. Her grandfather David E. Walsh was a firefighter and became Westminster's mayor in 1912.

Building experience

She left her native city to attend St. Mary's Junior College in 1949 and graduated in 1954 from the Hospital for the Women of Maryland, now Greater Baltimore Medical Center. She worked as a nurse on weekends until the youngest of her three children was in school and then worked nights for five years at Anne Arundel General Hospital.

From 1965 to 1980, she worked for the Health Department in Anne Arundel County as a community-health nurse for child care, including home visits, clinic and school services.

From 1980 to 1988, she was an occupational-health nurse for the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health administration (MOSH).

"As part of the MOSH inspection team," she said, "we traveled to industries all over the state."

She earned a master of science degree in educational counseling from Western Maryland College in 1987.

Child care work

In 1988, Albert moved back to Westminster from Severna Park. From that year until 1993, she worked as a nurse consultant for the state Department of Human Resources' Child Care Administration. "So instead of doing care from the adult perspective, as I am now, I was in charge of child care," she said.

That gave her valuable experience with regulations, she said. It also gave her a perspective that leads her to endorse the trend away from using the term "day care" in referring to elderly adults, as being too childish.

"We're going to change to calling it adult day services," she said.

Renovations

The renovation work at the old school, at 7 Schoolhouse Ave. off Pennsylvania Avenue near Western Maryland College, was approved by the Maryland Historical Trust, said Karen K. Blandford, the city administrator of housing and community development.

In 1996, Westminster received a $466,650 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Small Cities Community Development Block Grant Program, awarded through the state on a competitive basis. The grant is administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development.

Dealing with delays

Albert said she isn't fazed by delay in the project, such as the need for lead paint abatement.

"I hang loose," she said. "There are always going to be those things with an old building -- I know that from my years being with the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health."

The Westminster Senior Center, now in new quarters, had used the old West End School since 1975, but the building did not meet the accessibility standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The city provides the building for the family services group.

Grant money received for the renovation includes $136,000 from a state bond bill; $31,000 from the city for an architect and landscaping; $11,500 from the county; and $72,000 in equipment and furniture from Family and Children's Services.

The agency is committed to raising about $60,000.

Pub Date: 3/09/98

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