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Maryland health chief admits error in not seeking bed funds

Maryland’s top health official says he regrets not asking for more money in this year’s state budget to prevent patients from being turned away from state mental hospitals because of a bed shortage.

The Baltimore Sun reports that Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Van T. Mitchell told a Baltimore judge Tuesday that he “made a mistake” in not addressing the bed problem in time for this year’s General Assembly session, which ended in April.

There has been a growing backlog of admissions to state mental facilities in recent months.

Mitchell had been called before the court to explain why he and five other top department officials should not be held in civil contempt for failing to carry out court orders to admit criminal defendants in a timely manner.