Governor Martin O’Malley toured the Upper Shore Community Mental Health Center, after being urged to do so by the 36th District legislative delegation. Following the tour and an hour-long meeting, he agreed to delay the point at which the center must stop admitting patients until it is determined that the same level of service can be provided in some other manner if the center is closed. About three dozen people, including state staffers, legislators, Kent and Caroline County commissioners, town council members, a representative of Congressman Frank Kratovil, and Upper Shore staff were involved in the governor’s visit at the facility on Scheeler Road.
O’Malley met and talked with center staff and at one point chatted with about 10 patients who were watching TV in the community room. In the meeting after the tour, the governor heard from the various parties and asked a number of questions. He also made it clear that while he did not want to see the center closed, necessary budget cuts would have to be made throughout the state.
Last month the Board of Public Works, comprised of O’Malley, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy Kopp, voted to close the facility. The move was expected to save the state $2.7-million for the year and $7-million annually thereafter. Up to 90 people would lose their jobs with the closing. The timeline would require that the facility stop accepting new patients by October 1 and cease operations by March, 2010.