Closing of mental hospital is decried

November 13, 2003|By Ryan Davis | Ryan Davis,SUN STAFF

More than 250 people opposing the state's plan to close its Crownsville mental hospital argued last night that shutting the 90-year-old facility will produce more costs than savings.

"This is not rocket science. I'm not even an accountant. I'm a social worker," said Michael McGuiness, who works at a drug treatment center that leases space in the hospital complex. "You're looking in the wrong direction."

State officials have said that closing the 200-bed Crownsville Hospital Center would save more than $11 million next year. Of that, $5 million would go toward community mental health services and nearly $1 million would pay for renovations at a hospital where many of the patients would be transferred, they said.

At last night's town meeting organized by Del. David G. Boschert, a Republican who represents the area that includes the hospital, as many as 20 people lined an aisle of the Annapolis High School auditorium to point out what they say are overlooked costs of closing Crownsville.

They directed their comments to Boschert, three other Anne Arundel County delegates and Dr. Brian Hepburn, director of the state's Mental Hygiene Administration.

Dr. Brian Sims, a psychiatrist at the Crownsville hospital, said that moving his patients would force him to provide extra treatment with additional costs. "If it closes, I can count on 25 to 30 percent of my patients decomposing," he said in an interview with The Sun. "Their overall mental state will worsen."

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