Anne Arundel County

Anne Arundel drug treatment group doubles space with new facility in Crownsville

The Pascal Crisis Stabilization Center opened a new facility in Crownsville Tuesday it hopes will help people who need immediate treatment and expands the number of beds available for those seeking help.

“They said we couldn’t do it,” executive director Katherine Bonincontri said before the official ribbon cutting. The 16,000-square-foot center, focused on immediate treatment for those seeking help or referred from several partner agencies, moved from another building on the old Crownsville Hospital Center to the Winterode Building.


With a lease of $1 per year, part of Anne Arundel County’s contribution in the fight against opioid addictions, the new facility will allow the organization to double the number of beds available for those seeking treatment from 16 to 32. That center might not have opened if it wasn’t for a $100,000 bond passed during this year’s legislative session backed by the Anne Arundel County delegation and supported by County Executive Steuart Pittman.

Some of those beds are temporary under the emergency auspices of the State Opioid Response grants.


“We are in the process of getting permanent approval for more beds from the county and state," Bonincontri said.

Since opening its doors, The Pascal Crisis Stabilization Center has treated more than 2,300 people, many referred from the county’s Safe Station program. That program allows people to seek help at police and fire departments without fear of punishment.

The move into the Winterode Building is a homecoming of sorts for Bonincontri, who worked in the building for six years when she was the director of Anne Arundel County’s Crisis Response System until 2011.

PIttman met Bonincontri for an hour during his election campaign and heard her plans and her method for treating patients and almost immediately threw in his support. Bonincontri donated $5,000 to former County Executive Steve Schuh, a Rebpublican, during the 2018 campaign against Pittman, the Democratic challenger, according to election records. Since the election, Bonincontri has held a fundraiser for Pittman but those donations were not listed in online election records at this time.

“I was trying to figure out what services work and what we can do as a county to help people suffering from this addiction, this sickness being attacked by chemicals from within," Pittman said.

A person who needs treatment usually stays at the Pascal Crisis Stabilization Center for days, at which point Pascal staff work to find patients further placement in treatment or recovery.

Bonincontri says there are some differences to their approach. First is being able to administer drugs to assist in recovery.

“If they can’t get the medicines they need, if they are told they are on a waiting list, they will leave and we will miss the chance to save them,” she said.


Bonincontri also said she and her staff examined how initial treatment was being provided and pinpointed issues that can either drive an addict away — or prevent them from seeking help.

“We looked at all the factors that keep people from treatment. What can we do to break down every barrier that exists to getting people to treatment," Bonincontri said. “We need to have a facility big enough to receive them on no-notice basis, not put them on a waiting list. A facility big enough to say ‘yes’ to a vast majority of the people who call.”

"There is a window of opportunity to help, and you can’t let it close or you will miss them.”

But Bonincontri said aside from the facility the most important thing is compassion.

“I like to say we practice radical compassion. It starts with the moment they arrive, and often at the moment we have them on the phone,” she said.

Pittman envisions using the Crownsville Hospital Center as a home for services in the county amidst the remaining 532 acres of the former hospital. The old Crownsville Hospital was previously a mental health institution. During its history, some of the black patients were mistreated and died.


“This is step one. If you can do it with this building I know we can do it with more,” Pittman said.

Pittman has a plan for the state to turn over control of the acreage and aging buildings to the county. He said he has met with Gov. Larry Hogan, who supports the notion.

“We are going to pull together a group of citizens and stakeholders to determine what is the best plan is for this land,” Pittman said. “But it has to include treatment, mental health treatment, addiction treatment in this beautiful, natural environment where people can heal.”

The morning’s ceremony included numerous members of the county’s leaders including Sen. Ed Reilly, R-Crofton, and Del. Sid Saab, R-Crownsville, and Mark Chang, D-Glen Burnie, who served as master of ceremonies as those leaders and other contributors to the effort were recognized.