McCann visits Potomac Center

July 02, 2005|by TARA REILLY

Families and residents of the Potomac Center shouldn't be worried about the facility for the mentally disabled closing, the secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said Friday.

"There's nothing imminent. There's no long-term high stake plan," Secretary S. Anthony McCann said in an interview after touring the Hagerstown center.

McCann also said a report accessible through the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that recommends the closure of the Potomac Center to save money shouldn't cause concern.


The report, a fiscal year 2006 budget analysis by the Department of Legislative Services, proposed that the center be closed the same fiscal year.

McCann said the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene rejected the recommendation.

The report is on the Web site for reference purposes, he said.

McCann described the Potomac Center as an "extraordinary institution that provides extraordinary care and support for residents in the facility."

The Potomac Center is a 23-acre campus on Marshall Street and includes cottages where residents live and an administration building, among other facilities.

The secretary said the stop in Hagerstown was part of scheduled visits to various state facilities. State Sen. Donald Munson, R-Washington, accompanied McCann on the visit.

Gloria Leonard, whose 34-year-old daughter lives in one of the cottages at the Potomac Center, said she felt a little relieved after McCann's visit.

She said the secretary chatted with her and her daughter, Andrea.

Last month, Leonard wrote a letter to The Herald-Mail stating she feared the state wanted to shut down the center.

"Temporarily, I am (relieved)," Leonard said. "I don't think we can ever walk away from this and say everything is OK."

"McCann came up and talked to Andrea and I think that's a great start," Leonard said. "I think I see a light. I don't think we can put down our guards, though."

Leonard said she will continue to be an advocate for the center.

"(Andrea's) my daughter," Leonard said. "I have to be afraid. I have to worry."

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