- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Maryland officials on Wednesday appointed a new chief executive officer for the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center psychiatric facility, where two patients have been killed in the past two weeks.

Dr. David S. Helsel will take over Nov. 14 at the 220-bed, state-run facility in Jessup, where patients were found dead Oct. 22 and 28 in suspected patient-on-patient slayings.

The hospital primarily serves patients who have displayed mental-health issues while in prison, have been charged with felonies but found mentally unfit to stand trial, or are facing felony charges and are awaiting psychiatric evaluation.

The facility has had just three reported patient killings in its more-than-50-year history, all of which have taken place since September 2010. The incidents have caused critics to argue that the hospital is understaffed and its employees undertrained. State officials are investigating.

Dr. Helsel is one of the most experienced and accomplished administrators and psychiatrists in our state. His steady hand will help guide Perkins through this difficult time,” said state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, who last week called the killings “tragic and unacceptable.”

Dr. Helsel will come to Perkins from Spring Grove Hospital Center in Catonsville, where he has served as chief executive officer since 2004.

State officials said they retrained employees and tightened security after last year’s death. They could do so again after last month’s incidents, both of which ended with a patient facing murder charges.

Police say that on Oct. 22, Vitali Davydov killed his roommate, David Rico-Noyola, then alerted security personnel.

Davydov was sentenced to the facility in 2007 after he was found guilty, but not criminally responsible, in the 2007 murder of his psychiatrist.

Another inmate, Andre Mayo, was arrested and charged in the Oct. 28 death of Rogelio Mondragon after surveillance video showed he entered Mondragon’s room twice shortly before he was found dead.