Report details problems at Rosewood

December 19, 2007|By Gadi Dechter | Gadi Dechter,Sun reporter

The latest in a string of reports describing serious problems at Owings Mills' Rosewood Center may lead the state to close the long-troubled institution for the developmentally disabled, key lawmakers said yesterday.

A report released this month by the state's Office of Health Care Quality detailed numerous findings of neglectful and potentially dangerous treatment of some of the facility's 165 mentally retarded residents and a general failure to comply with federal and state standards of appropriate care.

The full text of the report, dated Dec. 13, said there were 130 incidents of "abuse, neglect, mistreatment and injuries of unknown origins" in a roughly two-month period. Though not all of them were serious, the majority were improperly investigated and documented. Several previous reports have detailed similar findings.

Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration is now finishing a review of the facility and is deciding whether it should be reformed or shuttered.

"My sense it that they're moving toward the closure of that facility," said Del. Peter A. Hammen, a Baltimore Democrat and chairman of the House Health and Government Operations Committee, which considered legislation this year to force Rosewood's closure.

Some results of the investigation, which was completed in late November, were released a month ago when several residents were found to be in "imminent jeopardy," a finding that could have threatened federal funding had the severest problems not been immediately addressed.

Wendy A. Kronmiller, director of the Office of Health Care Quality, said the report actually showed an improvement at Rosedale since a previous site survey in August. "It's getting better," she said. "There are a lot of years of problems at Rosewood to resolve and that's not ... going to happen overnight."

Kronmiller's full report, released this week by advocates for the disabled, also includes several graphic descriptions of neglected residents at Rosewood, such as a resident who wears diapers discovered by staff with blood and "redness, maceration and excoriation of the skin" on his genitals. The incident was not investigated for potential neglect, state officials found.

Other residents were given incorrect medication, were improperly restrained, allowed to assault other residents or not given appropriate "behavior plans."

Del. James W. Hubbard, a Prince George's County Democrat who sponsored the legislation to force Rosewood's closure, said he has had two conversations about the facility with O'Malley since the end of the last legislative session, and that "it's much more close to closure than anything else I've heard with the previous governor or this governor."

A spokesman for O'Malley referred questions to the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which operates Rosewood.

Health Secretary John M. Colmers declined to detail long-term plans for the facility and said the decision would be made by O'Malley.

"At this point we are looking at a variety of long-term alternatives for Rosewood," Colmers said, and working to fix the problems.

He said the department is finishing a case-by-case review of all Rosewood residents, which will be presented to Hammen's committee in January.

Hubbard said yesterday that he expected that review to function as an "inventory of people and what their needs are" so that they can be transitioned to community-based programs, rather than institutions.

Some relatives of Rosewood residents have lobbied for its continued operation, saying the center can provide excellent care. However, the national trend is to phase out such institutions, said Michael S. Chapman, the newly hired director of the state's Developmental Disabilities Administration, which oversees Rosewood.

"There is a national movement of de-institutionalization ... in favor of community-based services," he said, adding that about a dozen states are now institution-free.

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