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Oregon needs a safe and humane placement for individuals with severe mental illness who cannot be treated successfully in an outpatient facility. The Juncion City hospital site will provide secure 24-hour care for those unable to care for themselves in a less restrictive environment. Our local community health organizations are already overwhelmed and overburdened and suffer from quick turnover of staffing and inadequate programming for everyone. The idea that group meetings and weekly or monthly appointments for someone with severe mental illness is adequate is clearly mistaken; those with severe mental illness need constant, not occasional treatment, or will wind up in the prison system which will clearly cost more.
A generation ago when hospitals for the mentallly ill, such as Damasch, were closed, it was for good reason: they were inhumane and not providing treatment as much as warehousing individuals. With modern approaches that include medication management and individual supports, there is a need for adults with mental illness to be cared for in a humane fashion. When Damasch was closed, the emphasis was on improved outpatient services, which never fully materialized. If you walk into some outpatient treatment centers, as I have with a mentally ill relative, you will see how poorly they function for many people, especially those who sit there dazed and confused, not sure what they'll do next.
How can we expect the state to find alternatives to the Junction City Hospital when state funds are as low as they are and will be reduced even more? Our state already makes ridiculous decisions with our money, such as the news this morning that DHS will pay $193,000 for emotional intelligence testing and executive coaching of the 26 top managers at DHS, which incidentally is being paid to an Illinois firm?
For those with mental illness, better built and managed facilities are better than empty promises. We need to create a safe and well-run hospital for our most disabled adults with mental illness.
posted 2 years, 10 months ago
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