Throw Away the Key
News Report on the Conditions at Rosewood State Hospital in Maryland
(Program begins in mid-sentence)
Jim Vance: … nation in the world because the gap between what we know about care for the retarded and what is actually being done is increasing at a rapid rate.
Three out of every 100 Americans are mentally retarded, that's six million people, and it is estimated that another four million will be born before the turn of the century. More than 200,000 live in public institutions. The retarded have committed no crime, but the stigma of being less than perfect often sentences them to live in conditions worse than those in many prisons.
That is the subject of tonight's report, a study of what the state of Maryland provides the mentally retarded. Segments of the program were shown earlier this month on News 4 Washington. Much of what will be shown is ugly and shocking. Some of you may not wish to see it.
The story actually began with a recent birth of a mongoloid baby at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. The parents refused to permit doctors to remove an obstruction from the infant's stomach and permitted the baby to starve to death.
Perhaps they simply could not tolerate a life with a baby which was less than what society has determined is normal. It was an agonizing time for the parents and the pediatrician, Dr. Robert Cooke, Head of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins. He discussed his feelings with reporter Clare Crawford, who then went to Rosewood State Hospital for the Retarded to see what alternatives exist for parents who cannot afford private care for retarded children. First, Dr. Cooke.
Dr. Robert Cooke: I think the birth of a handicapped child such as a mongoloid infant is really a terribly difficult experience for any family to accept. There are stigmas still in our society to having a handicapped child. There are great expectations that people have for their children, and when one is abnormal, this is a great disappointment. And I think a mother right after the birth of a child is frequently not in a very good position to make a decision in a very rational way. So I can be sympathetic with such a family, even if I wouldn't agree with what was done.
Clare Crawford: What were the parents' alternatives, besides letting it die?
Dr. Robert Cooke: Well if the parents gave up the child and the state assumed custody, then the state would place that baby in some kind of a foster home if there was any available and… or in an institution, which I think is the alternative that many parents would think of, and they might think that it would be better if the baby died than go into a terrible institution.
[People screaming in the background]
Clare Crawford: These people are inmates, not patients. They have been placed here by their parents or the state. They have done nothing; they just have IQs of less than 70. That's what can happen to people like them in Maryland. One hundred and four of them live in this building, which can cost their parents up to 15 dollars a day. It's called King Cottage.
[People screaming in the background]
Clare Crawford: The day I was there, the washbowls had not been used. The dust was clearly visible. It was obvious that they had not been used for some time. An attendant said there was a broken pipe, but the mop sink worked. The attendants say the inmates were bathed the night before, and every night for that matter. But the inmates did not smell or look as if there were bathed often. So no one really cared that there was no bathing that day or that no one's teeth were brushed. Many inmates have obvious dental problems or have no teeth at all. An attendant says it's cute to watch the toothless ones pretend to brush.
Attendant: Okay. [Inaudible]
Attendant: Okay. [Inaudible] want to go to service?
Attendant: Don't put your pants on until you get your underwear.
Attendant: On the floor. [Inaudible] underwear. [Inaudible]. Do you want to go to service?
Attendant: … on the floor.
Attendant: Sit on the floor.
Clare Crawford: All of this takes about two hours from 6 to 8. There are 104 sleeping here, only about 17 more than the hospital officials say ideally should be here. But it is obvious that there is not enough staff or space to handle that many, so, by any logical standard, the cottage is vastly overcrowded.
Clare Crawford: Rosewood used to be called the Maryland Asylum for the Feebleminded. The first cottage was built in 1888, and the way it's run hasn't changed much. Doctors are in charge, in charge of everything. There are 25 medical doctors here and they are so busy deciding when to order new furniture or fix the plumbing, they don't have time to help the 2500 inmates get better and return to the community. The inmates are supposed to have IQs of less than 70; some have higher. Maryland Health Secretary Neil Solomon says a tremendous number of them should be back in the community.
Clare Crawford: Every door is locked at King. The inmates are penned up in a smelly basement room with nothing to do most of the time. The new state Mental Retardation Director, Bert Schmickel says many of the inmates are mentally sick and need help. But there is no psychiatric help at Rosewood. Mostly the inmates are left alone. Some chew on mop string, some carry out fantasies and exhibit symptoms of mental disorders.
There's supposed to be an hour of recreation in the morning and afternoon. At that time, the staff says, the inmates are given games, toys, and equipment. That's kept locked up at all other times because the inmates will break it up as children do break toys. The three days I visited King, I never saw the recreation period.
Inmate: I saw you yesterday.
Clare Crawford: Fourteen of the 104 King inmates are supposed to go to the modern Rosewood school for 2½ hours each day when a teacher comes to get them. I never saw the teacher. The attendants are just custodians.
Aide: Ready, set, go.
Clare Crawford: When they manage to get outside, they enjoy it. This day the recreation aide, who serves another cottage besides King, insisted on taking the patients out. The staff felt the ground was too damp. Most attendants find it easier to control the inmates in a locked, empty room.
Clare Crawford: The main meal is served around noon in the basement. It is not called lunch or dinner but feeding time. Recently the food cost 85 cents a day but Solomon, on his own, increased it to 99½ cents. The Legislature objected saying he didn't have the authority, and he didn't; however, the higher rate is still being paid.
No matter, the food still smells like the room. It has the same bad kennel stench, which stifles the upstairs. I was there for three noon meals. During an arranged visit, the room was spotless. When I came unannounced, the room was dirty, and attendants kept the inmates waiting while the place was swept, presumably for the camera. When the inmates eat, the scene cannot be adequately described. It must be watched to be believed.
Clare Crawford: After lunch, they go to the recreation room or the dormitory, which one afternoon remained spattered with human waste. It's not clear who was supposed to clean up such mess.
Clare Crawford: They use drugs at Rosewood. About 2000 of the inmates take everything from aspirin to antibiotics every day. About 1000 are tranquilized. It's given to the hyperactive inmates to calm them down, make them more manageable. They like the drugs, take them willingly, almost as if it were food.
Clare Crawford: The barbed wire at Rosewood seals off the maximum security ward, which is called Bazzell. It is named for a long-dead Baltimore coal merchant. Fifty of the 56 inmates here are tranquilized. They are kept here because they caused some trouble at another cottage or tried to run away.
Clare Crawford: The less retarded are toilet trained and usually spend their days in the basement where it smells. The reason is that the toilets at the end of a basketball court are stopped up and, because they are broken, no one uses the court. It is empty. The toilets are scooped out but even then there is a smell so the court is not used. One Bazzell staffer said the toilets have been broken for six years, but Rosewood's clinical director, Kurt Glaser, said that is not true, that they have been broken for only three years.
Clare Crawford: Immediately after I visited Bazzell with television cameras and called a hole in the roof to Dr. Glaser's attention, it was partially fixed. Rain for some years came through the hole and down all three floors of Bazzell.
Clare Crawford: There are orders to improve things at Bazzell, but so far you can't see any change. There is no program. A recreation aide is supposed to be on duty from 7 to 3, but I never saw one. Attendants say there is no equipment because the inmates break it.
Clare Crawford: And officials admit that some of the less retarded may not even belong at Rosewood. Two inmates in particular did not have any symptoms of the others.
Clare Crawford: But most of the people obviously need help.
Jim Vance: King and Bazzell are not the entirety of Rosewood. The hospital actually mirrors society at large. There are sections of the institution where the treatment is reasonable and the retarded are being trained. But as you have seen at King and Bazzell, Rosewood does have its dumping grounds. At other sections, the retarded are being trained because they have learned the Rosewood system - Obey the rules - a system that's hard to understand for a person with a low IQ.
Clare Crawford: There is Linda, a 21-year-old cripple with cerebral palsy. Rosewood is her story. She spent most of her life here and perhaps has received the best and briefly the worst the institution offers. Though she is smarter than most Rosewood inmates, officials haven't been able to find her a home outside. She was 7 when she lived in ancient Pembroke cottage built in 1892 and Rosewood's oldest building.
Linda: It was a terrible place. It was messy, sloppy, and smelled and everything. And the food wasn't right. When I couldn't make it across the road down to the, a, what would you call it, cafeteria, um, they used to bring my food in a plate… plate… a paper plate. And it was cold and kind of mixed and it didn't taste right. And half the time, it wasn't, you know, cooked right.
I could find like maybe a piece of eggshell in the egg salad, and maybe the potatoes wasn't cooked right or something like that. But… And then when they used to dress us, you had dresses on your shelf on the wooden… and they used to, you know, give you anything, mostly to wear, and I had a hard time finding clothes for kids because there were a whole lot of patients at Pembroke that was pretty hard to get clothes for.
Clare Crawford: So you mean that you had dresses that were your own, that your family had given you. [Inaudible] Yes, somewhere, right.
Linda: That's right, but we had…we had to still wear their clothes, the clothes they gave us. We couldn't wear our own personal clothes all the time because they had them locked up or something. Yeah, they had them locked up.
Clare Crawford: It hasn't changed much. Linda said it was crowded then and it's crowded now. There are 76 women and children living in the fieldstone cottage, which really is too small for even Rosewood's ideal capacity. Officials say there should be 61.
Clare Crawford: There's usually only music or games during an hour's recreation scheduled twice a day. Mostly, the inmates sit or stroll around the recreation room. They range from 8 to 67 years old, and the staff calls them "the girls." Twenty-nine take tranquilizers and there's generally the same, dull, purposeless indoor activity of all the old buildings on the Rosewood Quadrangle.
It is here in the Quadrangle that 758 people, who just happen to have low intelligence, are locked up. That's a third of Rosewood inmates. Only 49 of the younger Quad inmates are in a program that might help them to live outside the institution. The rest simply exist. Rosewood officials admit Quad residents live badly and there's too little space, staff, or activity. But they say it's better than it used to be.
State Mental Retardation Director Bert Schmickel says he doesn't doubt the Quad is a dumping place for uncooperative inmates and it is used as a threat to keep other inmates in line. He plans to change this.
As Linda recalled, Quad and Pembroke residents can't even wear their own clothes most of the time. It's a next shapeless sack on the state dress shelf—small, medium, or large.
Supervisor: Keep working, baby. Remember, look this way, don't look at the camera, honey.
Clare Crawford: For some reason, 32 lucky Pembroke residents usually attend classes like these for one hour a weekday. Another 42 Quad residents also are in similar classes.
Inmate: Four, five, three, ten, eight, nine, ten.
Clare Crawford: These may the most tragic inmates and perhaps the only patients at Rosewood: the bedridden. They will always be in an institution. Besides their obvious and appalling physical infirmities, a number of them are not mentally retarded, but they have the same program as the retarded patients in this overcrowded ward. This program is not official but appears to be the efforts of the staff. Schmickel praises them, but he wants more. He says even a very retarded bedridden patient should have music to enjoy or be moved from bed to mat every day. He thinks this type of patient should be intellectually stimulated.
Clare Crawford: Wyatt Cottage was built in 1942. It marked the beginning of what one Rosewood staffer called the Brick Age. The furnishings are more modern and it's not as crowded. Only 15 of the 49 inmates are tranquilized.
The statistics at Rosewood, which vary from day to day and official to official, say that Wyatt girls have higher IQ's. But more important, these girls are here because they've learned to conform to the Rosewood system which is not to be a burden to the staff. And it has paid off. They are treated like individuals, unlike the inmates in the Quadrangle.
Most of the girls at Wyatt wear their own clothes or school uniforms. They walk around by themselves or with others if they want to. They're not forced to go in groups accompanied by an attendant. They even go to school just across the street. It's the only one on the grounds, it looks like most suburban elementaries and the kids are there from 9 to 3.
Talking Sesame Street Book: There you are. I'm glad I found you.
Talking Sesame Street Book: I think you can help me.
Child: Big Bird!
Child: Big Bird.
Talking Sesame Street Book: I'd be happy to, Big Bird. What's the trouble?
Child: Big Bird.
Talking Sesame Street Book: Well, I was walking down Sesame Street, and I saw a great big long word written on the sidewalk. Hmm. I know it's an "A" word because it begins with the letter "A."
Teacher: See the "A" here?
Talking Sesame Street Book: But it's such a big word that I can't read it.
Teacher: Boy is that a word.
Talking Sesame Street Book: Look at that beautiful...
Talking Sesame Street Book: ...absolutely marvelous word.
Teacher: Yeah. Alphabet
Talking Sesame Street Book: ...absolutely marvelous word.
Book with kids singing along:
It's the most remarkable word I've ever seen
It might be kind of an elephant
Or a funny kind of kazoo [kazoo]
Or strange, exotic turtle
You never see in a zoo
Or maybe a kind of a doggie
If I ever find out just what this word can mean
I'll be the smartest bird the world has ever seen!
Teacher: Go ahead you can get sandpaper. Get rough sandpaper first and then smooth it [inaudible]. Put it in there now. Now this is a box. See where it [inaudible]? Put it in just like that? Go ahead.
Need more paper?
Teacher: Are you sure?
Clare Crawford: The school is generally regarded as successful, although it doesn't reach all the inmates on the campus. The key is individual attention and small classes. In fact, compared to the rest of Rosewood, the school seems empty. In addition to the regular members of the staff, there are volunteer aides who come in from the outside community. The lessons are practical: How to get along with classmates, how to pay attention, how to count money.
Teacher: I'm going to make this 9 and what? A what?
Child: I'm scared of the thing.
Teacher: It's not going to hurt you. Okay, look. You had your 1 up here. Look at me. You had your 1 up here again, but you didn't carry it. You carried it, but you didn't add it.
Clare Crawford: About 500 of Rosewood's residents are in full-day educational programs like these. They are the ones with the only real chance to leave Rosewood and make it in the world outside. The school has many of the advantages of a wealthy one: A stage, an orchestra pit, a gymnasium, a swimming pool, and a music teacher with two degrees who comes up with special arrangements for the school band.
Teacher: One, two, three four…
Teacher: ...seven eight nine.
Teacher: Right, okay.
Clare Crawford: Health Secretary Neil Solomon has closed admissions at Rosewood to try to stop more overcrowding, and he's moved some of the inmates to Mount Wilson, a tuberculosis hospital about two miles from Rosewood. Most of the advanced young inmates, including Linda, live there and they like it. How do you spend you days now and what are you doing?
Linda: Well, I work down in [inaudible] a shelter workshop. I work on the Black & Decker when we have it. And labs, tubes with TB, and two other kinds.
Clare Crawford: Preparing stuff [Yeah.] for lab experiments.
Linda: … for lab. The health… the Health Department.
Clare Crawford: What else do you do?
Linda: Toys. Putting them on cards. [Inaudible] that's 32 all together and make sure none of them are, you know, broken. And I work on grab bags.
Clare Crawford: What are grab bags?
Linda: Grab bags are for little boys and girls who like to, you know, go in the store and they see a bag and they grab it. And they only cost 10 cents. You put three… three toys or four, it depends what the toy…what the toy…what it has… how they shake the toys into it. Now if it's two good toys, you're only supposed to put two and a little rabbit that walks down the board.
Clare Crawford: Is that how you do it?
Linda: Yes, that's how I do it. And another girl staples on the card, they put 12 on a card.
Clare Crawford: You just staple the toys on the card.
Linda: Yeah. You staple the bag…the toys in the bag, I fold the bag, and they're ready to go. It's wonderful. And you have more activities and you have more privacy and you have…have rooms of your own, some have lavatories, and the food is good.
Clare Crawford: Is it really good?
Linda: Yes, it's really good. If you get pancakes, you know that's something good.
Jim Vance: Maryland health officials have drawn up plans and are now implementing a different concept to treat the retarded. The idea is to return as many of them as possible to their homes or the community to have the state help parents to keep their retarded child home as long as possible. This, officials say, helps everyone to see the retarded differently.
To see them as people who can contribute positively to society, a society which seems to place its highest value on usefulness. Retardation Director Bert Schmickel is starting a system which enables a specialist to visit the parents as soon as a retarded baby is born. This, to advise them of care and counseling available. The new plan also combines daycare centers, foster homes, and smaller institutions.
Clare Crawford: Henryton Hospital for Retarded Adults is 12 miles from Rosewood but a world away in lifestyle. Three hundred and ninety-one men and women live here. Most of them used to exist or, in reality, vegetate at Rosewood. Nearly all of them came from Rosewood's Quadrangle and half from King and Pembroke Cottages. They are toilet trained, eat with knives and forks, productive, and apparently happy. This is what happened.
They moved here in un-crowded rooms and were taught basic living skills. They were called residents instead of the girls and boys. Everyone does something from sewing quilts to sorting mail. Henryton residents work, and they get a dollar or so a week and lots of satisfaction.
This, the staff feels, is their secret. Work, planned activity, and recreation sublimate tendencies toward mental diseases some retarded people have. Residents who have banged walls or sat for hours and rocked and stared now turn out piece goods and art items for sale.
Some didn't like it at first. They objected to having to get up in the morning and diet if they were fat. But with the help of a buddy system, new arrivals learn to wear shoes and socks, make a bed, go to the clinic for medicine, and get used to an unlocked door. Henryton residents take tranquilizers and many of the same type of hyperactive persons who today fill filthy King Cottage at Rosewood.
Some residents are even working outside the hospital. They learn how to clean and keep house and run appliances in a model home. Forty-four are out on the job and another 25 are available for work as domestics or nursing home aides. They used to just sit or rock at Rosewood.
But it is not all work at Henryton. There are dances, parties, and even card games. The average IQ is under 30. It's a life of dignity and satisfaction, but officials say it is still not the entire answer for Maryland's retarded.
Clare Crawford: A large part of the answer is at Great Oaks School in Montgomery County. It is a wall-less residential and daycare center for the retarded residents of Montgomery and the four southern Maryland counties. Several others are planned across the state.
The center staff trains a retarded child and counsels his parents. It offers specialized babysitting so the parents can take a vacation. Its main aim is to help the parent keep the child at home. Unlike Rosewood, which is run by doctors, an administrator is in charge at Great Oaks. He calls on Georgetown University for medical services and has only one doctor on his staff.
A maintenance company cleans and repairs the building. He says, “We hire the experts in their field.” The teaching experts use a method call “reinforcement” to train the children. Every correct action is rewarded, and it works.
Teacher: Do this. Very good, Mitchell. Very good, Chucky. Good, Iris. Put your blocks on the table. Put your hands in your lap. Everybody looks at me. Oh, good, everybody's looking. Everybody do this. Very good, Chucky and Karen and Mitchell. Good, Iris. Very good. Chucky, you want to watch me? Karen? Watch me. Everybody look. Do this. Pick up one block. Good, Mitchell. Karen, pick it up and put it in there. That's it. Very good. Good, Iris.
Clare Crawford: Great Oaks brings the people from the community inside. Volunteer foster grandparents get transposition and lunch. They come every weekday from 8:30 to 1:00. Like Rosewood and Henryton, parents are assessed what they can afford for services at Great Oaks Only patients under 12 are admitted now, but the program will expand in the future. Ninety-seven patients from Rosewood have been transferred here already. The staff aim is to treat the child with dignity.
Teacher: We'll get lunch ready. Ah. Great. Up here. Take my hand and put it where you want it. Give me a kiss. [Inaudible]
Clare Crawford: Foster grandparents rarely miss a day. The Great Oaks director isn't sure who benefits the most from the program, grandparents or grandchild. In order to reinforce the tie with the community, as soon as the children are ready, they are sent to public schools. Great Oaks opened last year and five children who live there were ready to attend special classes in Prince George's and Montgomery counties this September.
Woman: Do you have anything you want to show us?
Student: This was from…
Woman: Oh, what did you learn about fire prevention?
Student: Oh. We learned that…uh, that we're supposed to stay inside, I mean go outside when there's a fire or something.
Woman: That's good.
Clare Crawford: The parents of some of the children who live here take them home weekends. During parent counseling sessions, they are told what the child is being taught in school and how to keep up the learning process at home. The parents also tell the counselors what they think their child needs to know to be a successful part of the family.
As good as Great Oaks is, there are still thousands more retarded not being helped in the area it serves, so Retardation Director Schmickel wants to set up more daycare facilities like the Providence Center near Annapolis. [There you are good girl.] This would keep retarded children at home, [OK] where Schmickel says most of them must ultimately be if the potential of the retarded child is to be realized.
Teaccher: All right. Now here's your turn. Hold the rope, yeah, yeah, yeah. Jump, girl. One, two, yeah. Good girl. Yeah. Yeah. Jump, jump, jump.
Clare Crawford: Providence students work as well as play. Some leave the school to clean churches or ready new homes after the builder is finished. Others work in a greenhouse to stock a mobile flower shop on the docks of Annapolis
Supervisor: Don't pack it too tight, Chuck.
Worker: All right.
Supervisor: That's good. Turn them upside down, Louis, and give them a good whack.
Supervisor: Wait, we've got to put some dirt in here first. I think you've got it, Louis. Louis. Careful now, don't break it. That's perfect.
Teacher: Oh look. Over here come on [inaudible] let's get going. How come? Because it needs to be polished.
Clare Crawford: Providence Director Patricia Hudson says Providence was opened 10 years ago by parents and county officials who were distressed because there was no place except Rosewood for their children. The students concentrate on useful things so they can help out at home and have better body control.
Teacher: [Shriek] Garrison, get back to your chair. Get back to your chair. [Background talking] Over here Anna, there's some more. [inaudible] I hit you in the nose.
Clare Crawford: There still are a number of children and adults living at Rosewood who would go to daycare centers like this but they have no family or their families can't or won't take them. Others, however, have found great satisfaction in raising retarded foster children.
Mrs. Smith: Well, they do have their ways of showing appreciation because everything that you do for the little one, he…it's thank you. And Jimmy and Herbie, I know at least once a day and possibly twice a day they're always saying I'm a good mother. And when they show their appreciation, I think it means a lot to us.
Mr. Smith: It's just a wonderful life. I've been raised around a large family and everything went along nicely and it's just a wonderful feeling, that's all I got to say.
Clare Crawford: Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Smith live in Baltimore. He's an electrician for the B & O Railroad, and they have three teenage children of their own. The state pays them $110 a month for each of their three foster children.
Mr. Smith: Can you say I pledge allegiance to the flag
Mr. Smith: Well, let me hear you say it, okay? Say it now.
Herbie: I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States, to the flag [inaudible] one nation,
Clare Crawford: Herbie is nine. He's been with the Smiths for two years. His natural parents visit occasionally. His IQ is below 50.
Mr. Smith: Who comes to visit you once in a while?
Mr. Smith: Does Miss Campbell come and see you?
Mr. Smith: Yeah?
Mr. Smith: Do you like Miss Campbell?
Mr. Smith: She's a very nice lady, isn't she, huh? Yeah. And where'd you go on your vacation this year?
Clare Crawford: Jimmy is seven, a mongoloid, and he has the same 30 to 50 IQ his brothers do. He's been with the Smiths three-and-a-half-years, and his parents don't visit him.
Mrs. Smith: Aaron [Aaron] yellow.
Mrs. Smith: Well, what's your favorite color? Blue.
Mrs. Smith: Blue.
Mr. Smith: [inaudible] brothers and sisters [inaudible].
Mrs. Smith: Look, who's this?
Clare Crawford: Aaron came to the Smith's when he was just six months old. He's almost five now. He's a mongoloid too and his parents don't visit either.
Mrs. Smith: Who am I?
Mrs. Smith: Look, who am I?
Clare Crawford: All of the boys placed here by Rosewood attend special schools, the two older ones in the regular school system, and little Aaron at a day center. The mother says her older children help her but, most of all, the three retarded boys have brought the family closer than ever.
Mr. Smith: Yeah.
Jimmy: Big car
Mr. Smith: Big car?
Mr. Smith: Ugga, ugga. Yeah.
Jim Vance: As I reported, what you have just seen was shown earlier this month on News 4 Washington. And as a result of these reports, no one was fired, although it is obvious that Mr. Schmickel would not mind if some Rosewood administrators resigned. A chance from traditional and in some cases inadequate institutional care seems underway. Clare Crawford went again to Rosewood. Here is that report.
Clare Crawford: Maryland Retardation Director Bert Schmickel stepped in and took personal supervision. He said Rosewood was one of the worst institutions he'd seen in more than 30 years of caring for the retarded. Next week, he plans to move 15 inmates from King and 20 more from an ancient building across the Quadrangle into newer and cleaner rooms. He says he hopes to empty King Cottage completely as soon as possible. More than that, he says he's going to tear it down.
And he says he's going to tear this down too. This is a fence which isolates Bazzell from the rest of Rosewood.
Bazzell itself will change, as will the rest of the Quadrangle. It will no longer be a dumping ground. They've taken out the broken toilets, the ones that have been broken for three to six years, depending on who you asked, so now the inmates can use the basketball court. The hole in the roof isn't fixed completely yet, but a contract to do that has been let.
Mr. Schmickel has ambitious plans for Quadrangle inmates. The people who remain here will be in smaller groups in repaired buildings with rugs on the floor and personal possessions. They will truly be patients instead of inmates. He thinks it will take a year to 18 months to do it.
Bert Schmickel: I believe firmly that we should plan and program for the retarded exactly as we plan for the normal person. Everything we do should have and keep this thought in mind.
When we talk about normalization, and if we really believe it and it's part of us, then we couldn't do the dehumanizing things. We couldn't live with the dehumanizing kind of things that are taking place here now in some areas.
And I do not make any exceptions. In other words, the profoundly retarded we should approach in the same way as we should the mildly retarded, and we should look at them in terms of developing them to their fullest potential within normal settings.
Clare Crawford: What do you think went wrong here at Rosewood, say at King Cottage?
Bert Schmickel: Well, I think size and numbers is very detrimental toward approaching any kind of a training child-centered program. It's impossible. And the larger an institution gets, the more crowded a particular cottage gets, the less and less the individual is noticed.
As I've said so many times, in a large institution, the administrative concerns become greater than the concern for the individual. And I think the average person who sees what is going on here will almost volunteer, as you said now, "What can we do?" We can, we can set up our own foster grandparent program.
We do not necessarily have to have federal assistance. That we can take middle-aged and older people who can give us a few hours a day and sign them to one or two or two people per week on an individual basis. And I'm sure this alone will bring for the first time some personal attention to many of these people that you see.
Clare Crawford: What do think the future of large institutions like Rosewood is?
Bert Schmickel: Well, as far as I'm concerned, they should be out of business, particularly in the care of the mildly and moderately retarded. I think we need backup institutions for those with serious medical problems, unusual behavioral or emotional overlay in behavior, and we should be moving toward small group home and individual homes scattered throughout the communities and with some small backup such as we have with our Great Oak facility in the greater Washington area and as we now have out to bid for the eastern shore.
Other than those backup situations, we should be creating, that is, constructing or building homes or buying already existing homes in the center of communities where our retarded people can be part of their family life, part of their community life.
Jim Vance: But it will take political commitment for the changes that Schmickel wants. Immediately after these reports were aired, Maryland Governor Marvin Mandel called the series a rehash. He says that his administration was aware of the problems and had made tremendous progress in helping the retarded.
Mandel's press secretary said the Governor had received no reaction to the reports. Dr. Cooke has said that one problem is that there is no outstanding political figure focusing personal attention on the problems of the retarded. Cooke said that President Kennedy, who had a retarded sister, was attracting attention and research money to the handicapped before he was assassinated.
That combination of political prestige and personal involvement is needed again, according to Dr. Cooke. Two state legislators saw the Rosewood reports and said the situation illustrated a basic political problem.
State Senator John Bishop: There are in excess of 120,000 mentally retardeds in the state of Maryland. Eighty percent of these, according to national statistics, can be rehabilitated and be tax-paying citizens. Now aside from the humanity that's involved in doing this, and that is developing a person's abilities to the greatest extent for him and for the benefit of society, there's an economic factor involved.
A substantial amount of money spent now would save us millions and billions in the future, and that all we've been doing over these many years in many cases is throwing millions of dollars down the drain.
State Senator Myer Emand: Nobody can tell me that budgets are all that important. It's about time we humanized our budgets. Unfor… I was just talking to one of our cabinet…new cabinet members who told me that he's beginning to see now that budget seems to control everybody's thinking, and he's a little shocked. I won't mention his name, but he's a person who's well versed from the other side of the fence. No, budgets aren't the predominating thing here; a human factor is what's…should be predominating in our budget thinking.
Dr. Robert Cooke: Tremendous inertia in our society, and I think one of the ways of breaking up this inertia of big buildings, big bureaucracy is to put the hands… put the money for the care of these children in the hands of the parents and let them purchase care. I've described this as the Free Choice Principle, allowing Social Security, for example, to make payments directly to the family for them then to purchase care in nonprofit institutions or, for that matter, even profit institutions so that the families have some alternative than simply the state institution.
This wouldn't cost society any more, because it's an enormous amount of money relatively going into these big facilities that pay a whole hierarchy of salaries. The number of doctors at Rosewood, for example, is grossly in excess of what's needed for the medical care, and those salaries take up a good deal of money.
And the supervisor of the supervisor costs a good deal, and I think smaller facilities really can end up to be less expensive. There is a feeling amongst administrators that if something's very big, it's cheaper, but I think the evidence is heavily in the other direction.
Jim Vance: Dr. Cooke, who is also the chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, says the retarded have more than financial and political problems. They must combat society's fickle attitude. Throughout history, Dr. Cooke says, the retarded have been alternatively scorned and revered. They have been left to die, they have served as court jesters, or worshiped as if carrying special messages from a deity, and they have been relegated to institutions. He says today in America there are special pressures working against the acceptance of a person with low intelligence.
Dr. Robert Cooke: I think it's a reflection of our rather great hopes in our society that everyone's going to be perfect, and if you're not perfect, why it's very easy to be rejected. We see this now with new programs for abortion of the handicapped, of the mongoloid baby or someone else. And those programs move more and more towards eliminating defects which I think a generation ago were tolerated.
Now some of the defects are very severe, and I think that this may be justified in some instances. But what concerns me is that our hope for a kind of perfect society means that our expectations for our children are very unreal, and if a child doesn't come up to expectations, then he may be rejected by his parents, and this is very destructive to any individual.
It does go along with the belief that everyone in America should be very productive and that we ought to turn out increasingly large gross national product, and to be of service to people to take care of individuals that aren't perfect seems to be rather low on our scale of values.
And it influences the care of the retarded, it influences what we do in hospitals and everything else if we don't have the brightest and most willing, and the most exceptional young people going into some of these fields because, in our society, to produces is the most important thing.
Clare Crawford: Can this care of the retarded or this rejection of the retarded be linked to other problems in society like the way people are treated in prisons and mental institutions?
Dr. Robert Cooke: Oh, I think this is all part of an orientation in society to reject the imperfect and to put our emphasis on production rather than service. Trying to improve a human being seems to be less important than improving an automobile and I think that's a sad commentary.