Rosewood Center Moves Toward Closure, Some Families Hope for Better Transition


ANNAPOLIS (Nov. 18, 2008)—Rosewood Center is one step closer to shutting its doors next summer, with administrators continuing the process of moving residents out of the facility while preparing to start laying off staff members in January.

The state residential center for adults with developmental disabilities in Owings Mills recently completed individualized assessments for the remaining residents who will have to be moved to new homes. There were 113 residents still left at the facility earlier this month.

"The reality is beginning to hit home that Rosewood is closing," said Renata Henry, deputy secretary for behavioral health and disabilities for the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Family members or guardians, a social worker, a service coordinator and other staff members were involved with each resident to evaluate individual needs.

Now that the assessments have been completed on time, Rosewood and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene staff members are moving toward their next step, identifying new homes for the residents by the end of December or early January.

Gov. Martin O'Malley ordered Rosewood to close after reports from the Office of Health Care Quality indicated the facility was outdated and had unsafe conditions. At the time, there were 156 residents there.

As the process moves along, a U.S. Department of Justice investigation continues with the goal of ensuring that the residents' civil rights are protected.

At a Nov. 9 meeting for the Rosewood Auxiliary, which includes family members and guardians of the residents, the U.S. Department of Justice's Tim Mygatt said that if the investigation reveals that the residents' rights were violated, the situation will be remedied.

Some members of the Rosewood Auxiliary are hoping the investigation's results will lead to changes that make the transition smoother.

"We'll be writing a letter to the [U.S.] Attorney General and encourage that the investigation is completed in a timely manner so it will be useful, so at the very least this transition will not be as chaotic and cruel as it seems," said Joelle Jordan, who has helped with communication efforts for Rosewood Auxiliary.

One of the complaints that some of the families have is that there is no state residential center like Rosewood within 70 miles. Families also are worried about signing contracts with health care providers because they say that the kind of housing they would be agreeing to does not yet exist.

Some of the families are suggesting that at least part of Rosewood stay open. Others would like to see a new state residential center built in Central Maryland.

Time is running out, though. Last week, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced that 88 of the 295 Rosewood staff members will be laid off in January.

Henry believes only a small group of families are still dissatisfied with the process. She said that more families had become engaged in the process and had their concerns addressed.

"I believe people are working well together," Henry said.

Capital News Service contributed to this report.

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