View all series for DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND MENTAL HYGIENE GREAT OAKS CENTER
non-ambulatory and partially-ambulatory mentally retarded residents born after November 1, 1958 from Calvert, Charles,
The building of the Center was undertaken in two phases. Phase I was begun in 1968 and was completed in 1970. This included an Administration and
The peak population of the center was reached in 1978, with about 500 patients. In 1986 the Department of Justice began an investigation of allegations of unconstitutional conditions at the hospital, and sent a letter to then Governor Schaeffer highlighting the concerns. After this, several people (on behalf of six residents) brought a suit against the center citing deficiencies in care. During this time the center continued to operate, but lost its Medicaid provider status in 1994 because it did not meet certification requirements. The State filed an answer to the complaint in January of 1995, but decided to close the center later that year. The Secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Martin Wasserman reported to the General Assembly that June:
The closure of the Great Oaks Center is based on costs which are escalating beyond any other Development Disabilities Administration (DDA) facility, and upon employee recruitment and retention problems which have made it problematic for Great Oaks Center to maintain its license and certification for federal Medicaid funding, to meet U.S. Department of Justice requirements, and to prepare for a successful trial in the case of Hunt v. Meszaros [the caption of this case in district court].
The center was closed in June of 1996, and the case was dismissed soon thereafter. Numerous letters to the editor were written by the parents of patients did contest the closing, suggesting that for their severely disabled children, community living was not an option, and that they needed a hospital setting for proper care. (Clippings of these editorials can be found in T2780-1 of the Archives holdings.)
Approval for the sale of the property by the Board of Public Works to private developers was made on December 6, 1995, and a final agreement was signed October 30, 1996 with Senior Campus Living Inc. for $9.1 million. The land transaction is recorded in