I continue to probe public officials in Maryland for some sign that they do anything at all in the way of investigating deaths in licensed pools — such as last October’s drowning of 14-year-old North Baltimore Aquatic Club swimmer Louis Lowenthal at the Meadowbrook Aquatic Center.
The state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said it delegates pool regulation in Baltimore to the city health department. When I asked for the authority for this, DHMH produced an undated letter from Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, the Maryland secretary of health from 1999 to 2002. You can view the letter at http://muchnick.net/baltimorepoolregulation.pdf.
Not even the Benjamin communication with his city counterpart at the time, Dr. Peter Beilenson, explains the current dance of denial by the state’s Dr. Joshua Sharfstein and the city’s Dr. Oxiris Barbot. The moth-eaten Benjamin “delegation” letter still has this language:
“The Secretary may also elect to take direct action to abate a public health or safety hazard or to assure conformance with applicable with applicable federal and State statutes and regulations where the local agency has not adequately addressed a problem or has not complied with Departmental policy.”
A kid lies brain-dead in a public pool with no lifeguard around. The incident report is late and slipshod, and there’s no known follow-up. The pool later gets its license renewed without a word of reference to any of this.
What is going on in Baltimore?
Maryland Health Secretary Sharfstein has not responded to an inquiry sent through his spokesperson late last week.