Maryland Department of Health Announces Legislation, Plan to Improve Court-Ordered Evaluations and Placements 

Proposed legislation, increased bed capacity, more positions will mitigate decade-long issue and improve care 

Baltimore, MD (January 23, 2018) – The Maryland Department of Health today announced proposed departmental legislation, as well as administrative actions, to address longstanding systemic issues involving court-ordered placements for individuals requiring mental health treatment. The Department has worked diligently to reverse a nearly decade-long problem of backlogs for justice system-involved individuals who require court-ordered placement for mental illness treatment at its hospitals.
The Department will introduce legislation to address structural issues that contribute to delays in this process. The legislation will require the Department to place court-ordered patients within a reasonable period of time in accordance with the Department’s Facility and Admission Policy and within no more than 21 days. The Department continues to strive to make all placements as soon as possible after the court’s order.
“By this April, we will have added nearly 100 new treatment beds to our system, both at state hospitals and through public-private partnerships with local hospitals” said Health Secretary Robert Neall. “We are committed to fixing this longstanding problem and providing treatment for these individuals.”
A workgroup started by the Department to devise solutions to this problem recently made a series of recommendations. The Department has been working in earnest to implement those recommendations as well as expand capacity, improve customer service, and restore partnerships. The actions already taken by the Department will result in 95 new beds being added for court-ordered placements by April 2018.
“This is a longstanding problem and one that the Department has worked hard to address,” said Neall. “We are committed to delivering the right care, in the right environment, for the right period of time across our entire system of care.”
The Department’s priorities are and will remain: providing treatment in the least restrictive environment appropriate for each individual; operating an integrated system of care that encompasses a range of services across a variety of environments; emphasizing recovery-oriented care that works for the patient and the public; and leveraging community-provided services that have become the leading practice nationally over recent decades, in order to develop a true patient-first, efficient infrastructure.