The first patients to stay at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem came 127 years ago. In more recent years, the quality of patient care has repeatedly come under fire and the federal government has investigated the facility. Few if anyone disagrees with the idea that the Salem hospital needs replacing. However, the additional hospital in Junction City is another matter.
Advocates say the nearly three million dollars already spent on siting and other preliminaries for the new hospital is nothing compared to the hundreds of millions of dollars it will take to build — and the estimated $120 million a year to run it. They say the money is better spent on much needed community-based programs that would help many more people grappling with mental illness. Though the Governor and the OSH say the hospital must be completed in order to care appropriately for patients, other lawmakers say in these times, when budget shortfalls seem intractable, everything must be on the table.
Do you have a friend or relative in the Oregon State Hospital in Salem? Do you know someone in need of community mental health care? What should the state be weighing as it decides whether to continue to build a new mental hospital in Junction City? Where should the money come from? Where should mental health money be focused?
- Richard Harris: Assistant director of the Addictions and Mental Health division of the Oregon Department of Human Services
- Dave Hunt: Speaker of the Oregon House
- Beckie Child: Board President of Mental Health America of Oregon
- David Clyne: City Administrator for Junction City