Salem

Officials from Maryland Salem Children’s Trust enter into a partnership with Winchester, Virginia-based Grafton Integrated Health Network. From the left are Matthew Eichhorn, Salem board president; Connie Meyers, Salem executive director; Scott Zeiter, Grafton chief operating officer; and Rob Johnson, Grafton business development administrator.

CUMBERLAND — After closing its doors last year, officials from Maryland Salem Children’s Trust said Wednesday the facility will reopen this fall after entering into a partnership with Winchester, Virginia-based Grafton Integrated Health Network.

Salem closed last June after more than 40 years of serving abused and neglected children at their sprawling facility located in the woods along Lower New Germany Road in Garrett County.

In a phone interview, Salem Executive Director Connie Meyers said that when they reopen in September, services will be focused more on working with autistic children and other kids with developmental disabilities. Salem is working with Grafton to develop programming, Meyers said, and they anticipate being licensed to serve 40 children.

When Salem closed last year, it led to the loss of 50 jobs. In time, Meyers said, she hopes to hire the same amount of people, between filling necessary roles like direct care professionals, teachers, therapists and other clinicians.

“The Salem principles will remain the same,” Meyers said, adding they will still be able to make full use of their wooded campus, and their equine therapy program will remain intact as well for children enrolled in residential and school programs.

“We actually are hoping to integrate the children more in the community than what we’ve been able to do in the past,” Meyers said. “We’ll be able to take them to places like stores and different activities in the community, and we’ll be able to encourage family visitation.”

Salem’s new partnership with Grafton, Meyers said, helps alleviate some of the financial difficulties that led to closure last year. Salem will also work with the Maryland Department of Disabilities and other state entities, she said.

“I’m really excited about this opportunity,” Meyers said. “I’ve loved working with the Grafton personnel in trying to bring this venture to Garrett County.”

The Grafton network has facilities serving children in Virginia and West Virginia, according to its website.

Lindsay Renner-Wood is a reporter for the Cumberland Times-News, covering West Virginia and more. Follow her on Twitter @LindsayRenWood, email lrenner-wood@times-news.com or call 304-639-4403.

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