Mental Hygiene chief submits resignation

May 08, 2002|By Johnathon E. Briggs | Johnathon E. Briggs,SUN STAFF

The director of the state's Mental Hygiene Administration, Oscar L. Morgan, submitted his resignation this week and will leave at the end of the month, state health officials said last night.

Morgan, 49, of Annapolis, was appointed director of the mental health agency - part of the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene - in 1997, after three years as its deputy director. He was instrumental in implementing the state's public mental health system, run by Maryland Health Partners, a unit of Columbia-based Magellan Behavioral Health.

In recent months, Morgan's administration has faced complaints from nonprofit, community-based mental health providers across the state over what they say is inadequate funding and administrative problems in the system.

Those clinics provide services for about 80,000 people, many of them needy - up from about 50,000 in 1997. Clinic operators say state funding has not kept pace, placing many providers in danger of going out of business.

Although funding has increased during the years, the mental health system has accumulated large deficits. Last year, the General Assembly created a tax amnesty program that generated $30 million to help cover past deficits. Gov. Parris N. Glendening's budget proposal for next year includes a $25 million increase for mental health services, although lawmakers and providers said those programs still appear to be in danger of deficits.

The Mental Hygiene Administration has a budget of $666 million, about 4,000 employees and manages 11 psychiatric hospitals, including Spring Grove in Catonsville and Crownsville Hospital Center.

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