BALTIMORE (WJZ) — By a vote of 2-1, the Maryland Board of Public Works on Wednesday approved transferring the campus of Spring Grove Hospital Center, a 375-bed psychiatric hospital in Catonsville, to the neighboring University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Gov. Larry Hogan and Treasurer Dereck Davis voted in favor of the measure, while Comptroller Peter Franchot, who previously raised concerns about the future options for patients and the lack of public engagement, was the only “No” vote.
UMBC will purchase the complex, including 175 acres and 77 buildings, for $1 and lease it back to Maryland Department of Health over the next 10 years so the agency can continue to operate Spring Grove while looking for excess bed capacity at other facilities in the region. The health department has two five-year options to renew the agreement.
Dating back to 1797, Spring Grove is the second-oldest continually operating psychiatric hospital in the country, according to the health department. The agency released its 2041 Master Plan last year and laid out a framework transitioning services at Spring Grove to other facilities in the state, starting in Fiscal Year 2032.
“The patient buildings were designed at a time when patients were often placed in rooms with four or five patients per room,” the agency said. “Patient care standards have changed over time, reducing the number of patients per room.”
Assessing the campus, the health department said Spring Grove’s functionality, architecture and civil engineering were all “Poor,” while the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems were considered “Fair.” Some buildings on campus date back to the 1800s, the agency said.
Local union AFSCME Council 3 opposed the transfer, saying it would negatively impact patients and 800 staff members.
“The need for in-patient psychiatric treatment only continues to grow and this lease creates no new beds while closing one of the state’s largest facilities,” the union said in an online petition.
Patrick Moran, president of the union, released a statement after the board vote saying members are happy to see UMBC expand, but not at the expense of other critical state services such as our state hospital system.”
“There is not currently nor a plan for 350+ psychiatric beds to come online for care around the state, at one site or even cumulatively. Right now, there is already a backlog for beds in the state hospital system, we can’t afford to lose any beds,” said Moran.
This story will be updated.