A subcommittee will begin studying whether Carroll County should setup a separate agency to coordinate all state-funded mental health services.

Such an agency would coordinate everything from inpatient stays at the Springfield Hospital Center and the new ward to open at Carroll County General Hospital, to outpatient services through the County Health Department and even local schools.

All state mental health money would flow through the coordinatingagency, to be called a core service agency. Five other counties havethem, and five more are being started elsewhere in the state.

Thesubcommittee will consist of five members of the Mental Health, DrugAbuse and Alcoholism Advisory Committee, chaired by the Rev. Bert Benz of Faith Baptist Church in Hampstead.

Benz said he appointed the subcommittee because the state is encouraging counties to set up core service agencies and may well require it some day. If that happens, the County Commissioners would set it up, Benz said.

"While it is still a choice, I would like us to explore a core service agency, so if it's mandated, Carroll County will be ready," Benz said.

The committee will have done its homework and have input in how the commissioners set it up.

In addition to himself, Benz appointed CynthiaA. Little, supervisor of guidance for the county schools, as chairwoman; Howard Held, director of the Mental Health Bureau of the CarrollHealth Department; Ronald Kershner, a division chief and social worker at Springfield; and Janice Becker of Berrett, who has a daughter receiving mental health services.

Becker said such an agency could help by shifting the power from various state offices to a base in the county.

"I see it as giving them a chance to be more flexible with the money, to channel more money where it's needed immediately," Becker said. "When the county must pay for hospitalization, there's more of an incentive to have programs in the community to get them out of the hospital."

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