Dr. Stanley Roy Platman, a retired psychiatrist and health administrator recalled as a champion of community-based mental health services, died after heart surgery May 7 at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital. The Guilford resident was 79.
"Stanley would take on as patients human beings most others in his field would not," said Ellen Callegary, an attorney who represents clients with disabilities and lives in Baltimore. "He helped people with complex needs, including those with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses. He was a visionary. He understood that people with disabilities should not be in institutions. He was a champion for community-based services. He was also a charming man with a lovely sense of humor."
Born in London, he was the son of Jack Platman and Josephine Levy Platman, who owned a grocery store and pub. He recalled the German bombing of neighbors during World War II. He helped support himself as a photographer in Brighton and earned a medical degree at Queens University in Belfast. He did studies in thyroid conditions in Haifa, Israel, and in South Africa.
"During apartheid, Stan used to walk in marches with the women in the Black Sash [apartheid protesters] and have black African social workers ride with him in the front seat. Because of that, he was seen as a troublemaker," said his wife, the former Vera Thomas, a nurse midwife. "He was very liberal. He taught me a lot about the rights of man."
He later returned to South Africa.
"Stanley was always able to sift through what a person was saying. Very few people had his compassion, abilities and understanding. He was a very gentle person. He gave his patients his home phone number. They never abused it," said his wife. "He was always committed to the plight of the disenfranchised, and he was always for the underdog."
Before moving to Baltimore in 1976, Dr. Platman worked as the director of the Metabolic Research Unit at the New York State Psychiatric Unit through Columbia University. Colleagues said he worked extensively in the use of lithium and rubidium in affective disorders.
"At the time, those who were mentally ill were sent to asylums for long-term hospitalizations in psychiatric institutions. They were shipped to the countryside and were separated from their families and communities," said Benjamin Bernstein, a retired psychologist who lives in Westchester County, N.Y. "With Stan's leadership, we were able to work toward deinstitutionalization and returning many chronically mentally ill individuals to their families and communities. He inspired followers and was a great leader."
After coming to Maryland, he was assistant secretary for mental health, mental retardation and addictions for the state's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. He held the post until 1984.
He became chief of psychiatry and medical director at the old North Charles Hospital in Charles Village. He then established a practice at Union Memorial Hospital with other physicians.
"Dr. Platman helped me to lead a fuller life, with increased confidence and empathy for other people," said a former patient, Dorian Borsella of Fallston. "Dr. Platman's trust in me through the years helped me to trust others. ... Dr. Platman respected the knowledge that I brought to the table and never, ever was patronizing."
Ms. Borsella said he was "one of the most decent, honorable and ethical individuals whom I have ever met."
Dr. Stuart Bell, vice president of medical affairs at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, said of his former colleague, "Stan was the founder and guiding light of the inpatient, partial hospitalization and outpatient psychiatric services at the hospital. He really helped to serve a part of the Baltimore community that did not have a lot of behavioral health services in that part of the city."
Dr. Bell added that "he was a great clinician, leader and force in the community. He brought to our hospital a depth of service. ... He was also extremely intelligent and had great organizational and administrative skills."
Dr. Platman retired in late 2013.
Dr. Platman was also medical director of the Maryland Physician Health Program, a charitable affiliate of MedChi, the Maryland State Medical Society.
"Stan has been a steward for the Maryland Physician Health Program and has helped countless fellow physicians over the past 25-plus years," said Chae Kwak, director of the Maryland Physician Health Program. "He believed that the ability for physicians to get the help they need in a confidential manner was enormously important. He was the first person to think about all sides of a situation and encouraged others to do the same and always, always to do the right thing no matter what other people say."
A life celebration will be held at 1:30 p.m. June 23 at Union Memorial Hospital, University Parkway and Calvert Street.
In addition to his wife of 44 years, Dr. Platman is survived by nieces and nephews.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun