A committee exploring the feasibility of developing a long-term residential heroin treatment center at the abandoned Henryton Hospital in Marriottsville decided yesterday to study a building at nearby Springfield Hospital Center as a potential site for the facility.
County health leaders, members of the state's attorney's office, several court officials and Carroll commissioners have been searching for months to find a suitable location for a treatment center that would serve young adults, most likely between ages 18 and 25.
Officials have expressed interest in renovating Henryton Hospital, a vacant state hospital along the Patapsco River on the Howard-Carroll border. The state has tried to get rid of Henryton, built in the early 1920s as a tuberculosis hospital for African-Americans, for nearly 15 years. Only Carroll has expressed interest recently in the 50-acre property.
But neighbors of the abandoned hospital oppose plans to establish a drug treatment center there. They have urged the committee to explore other options, noting concerns about safety and possible drug dealing near their homes.
"It's my feeling that the county is going to find Henryton too expensive and will most likely give serious consideration to the Men's Home building," said Carroll County Health Department Director Larry L. Leitch, referring to a building once used as a dormitory for male employees of Springfield Hospital Center in Sykesville.
The commissioners said they are keeping their options open.
"I'd like to have an idea of what all the choices are," said Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier, noting that the Springfield hospital complex has several buildings that might be suitable for a treatment center. "We're just in the stage of checking it out. We won't know what the best option is until we do our research."
Carroll commissioners have directed their staff to develop cost estimates for renovating Henryton and the Men's Home. They are expected to report to the committee in two weeks.
"We'll have to wait and see what our options are and then make a decision," said Commissioner Donald I. Dell.
The Men's Home, a two-story structure, was built in the 1930s. It has not been used for the past 15 to 20 years and would require a lot of work, Leitch said.
"It could easily accommodate a 24-bed heroin treatment facility," Leitch said. "But it would take a good deal of work. The building is not compliant [with the Americans with Disabilities Act]. It has no heat, no elevator, and would probably need all new windows, plumbing and wiring."