Our Past

Moses Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Envision and Endow An Institution For The Humane Treatment of the Mentally Ill

Moses Sheppard was born in 1775. He came to Baltimore, Maryland as a young man and through hard work and business acumen, amassed a fortune as a merchant. He was a member of the Religious Society of Friends, and in keeping with the concerns of the Quakers, he had a strong interest in social causes which he actualized as the warden of the city's poor and as commissioner of the prison. In these capacities Sheppard became aware of the inhumane treatment accorded persons with mental illnesses, or "lunatics" as they were then called.

For the most part, prior to the Civil War, there was no attempt on the part of society to manage or abate the symptoms of mental illnesses. Delusional, delirious, and aggressive behavior was particularly challenging, and those who suffered from these symptoms were often chained or kept in cages by their desperate families. Many eventually escaped, wandered and ended up in almshouses and jails where they were confined, restrained and treated inhumanely, even brutally. A movement for humane treatment of persons with mental illnesses, born in France and England, found fertile ground in America the mid-1800's with the creation of a handful of progressive institutions on the East Coast where therapeutic treatment was provided in the form of warm baths, tranquil garden walks, moderate exercise, productive structured activities, and kindness and compassion on the part of the staff.

Dorothea Lynde Dix, a nationally prominent social reformer, took up the cause. In 1851 she visited Moses Sheppard to enlist his support in her efforts to induce the Maryland legislature to establish a state institution for the humane care of the insane. Sheppard was inspired, but his vision was of an institution unfettered by political control. A man of action, decisive about the cause, Sheppard secured a charter from the Maryland General Assembly for the establishment of The Sheppard Asylum. Final incorporation took place in 1853. His plan stipulated the following: Courteous treatment and comfort of all patients; that no patient was to be confined below ground; all were to have privacy, sunlight and fresh air; the asylum's purpose was to be curative, combining science and experience for the best possible results; and that only income, not principal would be used to build and operate the asylum. As a result of the last stipulation, the opening and the admission of the first patient was delayed until 1891, 34 years after Moses Sheppard's death.

The Sheppard Asylum was built on what had been 340 acre farm a few miles north of Baltimore City. The future of Sheppard Asylum was greatly enhanced by an endowment from wealthy merchant and philanthropist, Enoch Pratt, upon his death in 1896. He stipulated that his bequest be used to complete construction in progress, enlarge the facility to house 200 additional patients, serve the indigent, and that the name of the institution be changed to The Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital. All of his conditions were met and The Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital remains in operation today as the hospital component of the statewide behavioral health provider, Sheppard Pratt Health System.

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Our Present

Mission Statement:
Sheppard Pratt, a not-for-profit behavioral health system, is dedicated to the improvement of quality of life in communities by serving the behavioral health and special education needs of individuals, families and organizations.

Sheppard Pratt Health System is a private, non-profit behavioral health organization that provides a full range of services in a variety of settings to meet the needs of children, adolescents, adults and older adults. Headquartered in Towson, Maryland, just outside of Baltimore, Sheppard Pratt has more than 2,500 employees and 33 programs in 11 counties of Maryland, Baltimore City and in Northern Virginia. In 2012 Sheppard Pratt Health System served more than 53,000 individuals and provided just under one million units of mental health services, which consists of patient days of hospitalization, partial hospitalization, residential treatment or respite, or of special education, psychiatric rehabilitation, general hospital services or outpatient programming operated by Sheppard Pratt.

Organizational Structure

The Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Foundation, Inc. acts as the parent corporation for The Sheppard Pratt Health System and its affiliates and for The Sheppard Pratt Physicians, P.A. and is the entity that conducts fund raising. A volunteer board of trustees governs the foundation's activities.

Sheppard Pratt Foundation, Board of Trustees

Margaret Allen Emile A Bendit, M.D.
S. Winfield Cain John E. Carnell
Penny Cordish Susan Fenimore
Dr. W. Byron Forbush, Chair Robert Y. Hamilton
Laura Gamble Alan N. Gamse
Timothy R. Hearn Phil Grantham
H. Thomas Howell Kenneth A. Jones
Norma P. Killebrew Charles E. Knudsen, III
Robert Kresslein Brian E. Le Gette
Annette R. March-Grier William Morton
The Honorable J. Frederick Motz Robert Schaftel
Gail L. Shawe Alfred L. Singer
John W. Steele, III Gary E. Talles
Gay Williams Pamela P. Young

Our Guiding Principles:
Quality: We will meet professional standards in our field and continuously improve all aspects of our work.

Caring: We will provide services with compassion and with sensitivity.

Charitable Responsibilities: As a tax-exempt organization, we will meet our charitable responsibilities to serve the community and to honor the intent of our donors.

Value: We will assure that the cost of our services appropriately reflects their value and we will operate in a cost-efficient manner.

Innovation: We will use the expertise of our staff, as well as the latest scientific advancements, to create a system that is a model for others.

Community Presence: We will work to reduce stigma, to increase access to mental illness and addiction services and to increase awareness of the benefits of treatment.

Empowerment: We will encourage autonomy of both our consumers and staff using teamwork to achieve individualized goals.

Learning Environment: We will enhance professional knowledge and skills through inquiry, teaching, learning and research.

Cultural Diversity: We will deliver services without regard to race, religion, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability. We will foster an environment that embraces the diversity of all of our constituents.

Integrity: We will conduct ourselves in an ethical, honest and forthright manner.

Safety: We will provide a safe environment for consumers, volunteers, staff and visitors.

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Our Future

Vision Statement:
Sheppard Pratt will be the preeminent regional resource in behavioral health.

Sheppard Pratt, with its proud tradition of over 100 years of quality psychiatric treatment, is poised to expand and grow into the 21st century. Our Towson, Maryland campus will be the hub of a mid-Atlantic regional behavioral health system for individuals, families and organizations. These services will include highly specialized tertiary care on the campus at Towson and primary mental health services in general hospitals, outpatient clinics, doctors' offices, psychosocial rehab programs, schools, nursing homes, rehab facilities, prisons, and the workplace. Contracting with hospital emergency rooms, Sheppard Pratt will provide emergency psychiatric services. Urgent care and mobile crisis teams will respond to patient needs in community settings, preventing unnecessary hospitalizations. Short-term psychiatric care will be provided in general hospitals, with Sheppard Pratt managing inpatient service as well as day treatment, with patients returning to their homes at night. While special schools address the needs of students with serious emotional disorders, services to meet mental health needs of students in mainstream schools and other settings such as residential treatment centers, respite care, group homes, supervised apartments, will be provided. The business community, with its commitment to a healthy work force, will contract with Sheppard Pratt for short-term counseling and consultation through employee assistance programs and Sheppard Pratt will manage a full behavioral health benefit package for employers and employees across the region. In essence, Sheppard Pratt will deliver the full continuum of behavioral health services for individuals and families in need.

In the 21st century, it is likely that we will see breakthroughs in the treatment of schizophrenia, Alzheimer's Disease, major depression, and developmental disorders in children. As treatment and prevention strategies become more effective and complex, Sheppard Pratt will be there, providing the latest and the best. This "state of the art" care for our patients carries on the great vision of Moses Sheppard when he admonished us to "lead the way."

Steven S. Sharfstein, M.D.
President and CEO

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Last modified: Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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Baltimore, MD 21285

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