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By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 28 June 2006

A proposal to restructure Oregon's mental health system could involve constructing several new state hospital facilities.
The proposal calls for siting one 620-bed facility in the North Willamette Valley region, one 360-bed facility south of Linn County on the west side of the Cascades, and at least two non-hospital-level 16-bed secure residential treatment settings east of the Cascades.
The public will be able to comment on the proposal during the next several weeks. A joint House-Senate legislative committee will conduct a public hearing before July 15 to allow public review and comment on master plan recommendations submitted by KMD Architects of San Francisco. A group composed of legislative and executive branch representatives will determine site-selection criteria before Sept. 1, and the state Department of Administrative Services will give the governor and lawmakers a list of suitable sites for consideration by next February.
Final decisions about the facilities' locations, designs and financing will be made by the close of the 2007 legislative session. The anticipated cost is between $324 and $334 million.
"I am encouraged to have bipartisan support for moving forward vigorously on behalf of the patients, families and staff members who already have waited far too long," Kulongoski said. "This proposal isn't just about constructing new buildings, it's about improving people's lives."
Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, noted that 100 patients live in the most dangerous section of the Oregon State Hospital, parts of which have been determined to be life-threatening.
"We must act quickly to move toward a 21st century mental health system," Courtney said.
House Speaker Karen Minnis, R-Wood Village, said the state should learn the mistakes made when the Fairview Training Center closed and residents were sent to community facilities for the handicapped.
"This is a first step in that process and making sure we provide better mental health care," Minnis said. "Considering the serious health and safety issues at the existing state hospital, it's critical that we start this process now so the Legislature is ready to debate options next year."
KMD Architects provided two reports to the governor and Legislature. The Phase I Report identified the structural and systemic challenges facing the Oregon State Hospital's Salem campus and concluded that Oregon should proceed with both the replacement of the hospital facility and a redesign of the entire public mental health system.
Building on those findings, the Phase II Report recommended enhancing Oregon's delivery of mental health care at the community level and clarified the role the Oregon State Hospital should play within an improved and enhanced community-based system.

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