ANNAPOLIS – For the fourth time in just over a year, a state report has found residents were in immediate jeopardy at Rosewood Center, the state’s largest facility for people with developmental disabilities.
The report was released last week, just days before a fire at the Owings Mills facility. No injuries were reported in the Sunday fire, which was apparently intentionally set by a female resident.
Disability advocates renewed their call for the state to close Rosewood following the fire and latest survey, which comes on the heels of a scathing report released in September. The latest report threatens the facility’s Medicaid funding and licensure if improvements are not made immediately.
Correcting Rosewood’s problems “has been much more difficult than I thought,” said John Colmers, secretary of the state’s Department for Health and Mental Hygiene. “I had hoped that we would have been much further along.”
But he added that any decision on the future of Rosewood was “not a simple matter” and that his department was “focused on addressing some of the long-term problems” at Rosewood.
Despite “well-intentioned attempts to remedy” the problems at Rosewood, residents there still are not safe, said Brian Cox, executive director of the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council.
“Each time another report comes out, it just further proves” Rosewood should be closed, Cox said.
The latest 12-page report, released by the state’s Office of Health Care Quality after an early November site visit, contained two particularly disturbing findings. One resident was sent to a hospital intensive care unit and spent three days on a ventilator after being given the wrong prescription medication while another was found strapped to a wheelchair, sitting over a pool of his own urine.
“Those are very, very serious indiscretions,” said Wendy Kronmiller, director of the Office of Health Care Quality. Kronmiller said she believes staffing changes are being made to correct medication errors, but that “we’re very concerned and will continue to be a presence” at the facility.
Kronmiller informed Rosewood director Robert Day on Nov. 20 that the facility could be stripped of both its Medicaid funding and its state license as early as today if the immediate jeopardy is not eliminated.
Those would be the most serious penalties yet against the facility. Previous surveys led to month-long admissions bans and the installation of an outside monitor who reports to Kronmiller’s office. That monitor, Tony Records, started Nov. 1.
For the state “to find the conditions they’ve found over and over again is almost hard to believe,” said Laura Howell, executive director of the Maryland Association of Community Services for Persons with Developmental Disabilities.
But Kronmiller also said some improvements have been made at Rosewood. The September survey found nails, screws and razor blades that residents could ingest scattered around the campus.
“That really has been resolved,” Kronmiller said.
Colmers would not say whether the state is considering closing Rosewood. But he said that a General Assembly requirement that all of the facility’s residents be evaluated for possible community placement “is spurring our thoughts on how to proceed.”
“We’ll continue to plug away,” Colmers said. “It’s important for us to keep the safety of the people that live there (at Rosewood) foremost in our thoughts.”
But the state is still not moving fast enough for advocates like Cox and Howell, who believe at least a year’s worth of planning would be necessary to close Rosewood.
Maryland already has protected juvenile and adult offenders, said Howell, noting that the state closed both Bowling Brook Preparatory School in Carroll County and the Maryland House of Corrections in Jessup after safety questions at those facilities.
“When are they going to take action to protect people with disabilities?” Howell asked.
The problems at Rosewood are still “as basic and as extreme as health and safety,” Cox said. “What more can you possibly do? To say you’ll go in and take care of it is absurd.”
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