Carol Wheeler Bell, 66, psychiatric social worker


Carol Wheeler Bell, a forensic psychiatric social worker at the Walter P. Carter Center for 17 years, died Monday at Johns Hopkins Hospital from complications of scleroderma. She was 66 and lived in Columbia.

Mrs. Bell improved programs to treat patients committed to PTC Carter Center by the court system. The hospital is a state-run, inpatient psychiatric facility on Fayette Street downtown.

When health problems forced her to retire this year, Mrs. Bell was preparing -- at the center's request -- a manual detailing the policies and procedures she had developed over the years. Much of the work was done when she was too ill to leave her home.

Her daughter, Lucy Hill of Ellicott City, hopes to complete the manual.

"She had the skills no one else had," Ms. Hill said. "She worked within the system and advocated the best results for the patients."

Lynn Cunningham, director of social work at Carter Center, said Mrs. Bell understood what the legal system wanted for each patient, but worked to develop a program that was best for the patient.

"As a social worker she had a solid knowledge base of what resources existed," Ms. Cunningham said. "She also made sure the legal system understood what we did."

A native of Grand Forks, N.D., Mrs. Bell received a bachelor's degree from Rice University in 1952 and a master's degree in social work from the University of Louisville in 1965. She also did graduate work at the Johns Hopkins University, the University of Houston and Louisiana State University.

She moved to Montgomery County in 1967 and was a Washington probation officer from 1967 to 1969. In 1969, she moved to Columbia and was a counselor at the Family Life Center in the Wilde Lake community.

From 1972 to 1979, she worked in many positions at Spring Grove Hospital in Catonsville, including a five-year appointment as the superintendent's representative at the hospital's hearing office, where she interpreted, initiated and implemented all procedures for involuntary admission hearings.

She began work at the Walter P. Carter Center in 1979.

Christine Barnes, chief of regulations, planning, policy and legislation of the state's mental hygiene administration, said Mrs. Bell saw each person as an individual and developed a method to deal with each accordingly.

"She was smart enough to see what needed to be done and daring enough to do it," Ms. Barnes said.

Mrs. Bell married John William Hill in 1952; they divorced in 1971. She married Dr. Richard Alan Bell in 1976.

Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Oct. 14 at Wilde Lake Interfaith Center, 10731 Twin Rivers Road in Columbia.

In addition to her husband and daughter, she is survived by a son, Eriksson Hill of Linden, Va.; two other daughters, Robin Hill of New York City and Orissa Landau of New Market; a stepson, Mark Bell of Fort Collins, Colo.; a sister, Mary Zelle of Chattanooga, Tenn.; and seven grandchildren.

Donations may be made to the United Scleroderma Foundation Inc., P.O. Box 399, 734 East Lake Ave., Suite 5, Watsonville, Calif. 95077-0399, or to the Oley Foundation, 214 Hun Memorial, Albany Medical Center A-23, Albany, N.Y.

Pub Date: 10/06/96

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