Oregon State Hospital halts admission to persons who are civilly committed

From the Oregonian, December 17, 2019

The Oregon State Hospital, overburdened with patients from the criminal justice system, won’t accept people with a mental illness who are a danger to themselves or others for at least 10 days, state health officials said Monday.

Patients who haven’t been charged with a crime but need treatment at the state hospital will have to wait in community hospitals until beds become available, no earlier than Dec. 27, according to a letter the Oregon Health Authority sent to advocacy and health care groups

“We acknowledge this may cause a hardship for community hospitals and the people who are waiting for admission to OSH,” wrote Tyler Jones, the hospital’s chief medical officer. “Please know we do not take this action lightly.”

The health authority is doing this to make sure it continues to comply with a judge’s 2002 order that criminal defendants ordered to mental health treatment get to the hospital within seven days. The state has been in trouble this year because many defendants have had to wait in jails far longer than that, though a judge recently found the state to be back in compliance.

Articles & documents below are from The Oregonian & other newspapers ~ click through to read.

READ – Federal judge lifts extra oversight of Oregon State Hospital, citing improvements, October 2019
READ – Judge Declines To Hold Oregon In Contempt, Orders Compliance Hearing For State Hospital, June 2019
READ – Judge Finds Oregon State Hospital ‘Willfully Violated’ Court Order, June 2019
READ – DRO v. Mink & Mazur-Hart – Disability Rights Oregon’s amicus memo, May 2019
READ – Citing ‘moral emergency,’ attorneys seek contempt as Oregon defies mentally ill defendants’ rights, May 2019
READ – Oregon mental hospital is ‘world’s most expensive homeless shelter,’ state health director says, May 2019
READ – ‘We have no solution’: Grim state of Oregon mental health system laid bare in court, April 2019
READ – Oregon faces possible contempt ruling over slow access to mental health care, April 2019
READ – Amid statewide crisis, Oregon sets record for number of mentally ill people charged with crimes, April 2019
READ – Mentally ill languish in Oregon jails, in breach of federal court order, February 2019
READ – Costly, ineffective, cruel: How Oregon ensnares mentally ill people charged with low-level crimes, February 2019
READ – Portland homeless accounted for majority of police arrests in 2017, analysis finds, June 2018
READ – Disability Rights Oregon v. Mink & Mazur-Hart, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, argued September 2002
READ – Disability Rights Oregon v. Mink & Mazur-Hart – Final Order, May 2002

December 16, 2019

To our community partners,

I am writing to inform you about a temporary and significant change in our practices related to civil admissions to Oregon StateHospital (OSH).

As you are aware, OSH has been working to maximize bed capacity across the hospital to meet the treatment needs of people under aid and assist, civil and guilty except for insanity commitments.

From October 2018 forward, the greatest demand has been for aid and assist beds. In response, OSH has increased hospital capacity to serve this population, and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has increased capacity for community restoration. These efforts combined with others have resulted in timely bed availability for individuals under aid and assist orders since July 25, 2019.

However, the demand for aid and assist services continues, and once again, we need additional capacity. To accommodate, we will pause civil admissions beginning today, December 16, through December 27, 2019. We expect to begin accepting civil admissions as beds become available after this date.

As partners in Oregon’s behavioral health system, we depend on each other for success. We acknowledge this may cause a hardship for community hospitals and the people who are waiting for admission to OSH. Please know we do not take this action lightly.

We will try to assist you with cases when there is an exceptional need. Please send requests for prioritization to our admissions office. The admissions office, with assistance from me, the Chief Medical Officer, or a designee, will review these requests and make determinations based on the summary information you are able to provide.

We thank you for your understanding while we make these adjustments to best meet the needs of all Oregonians who need state psychiatric hospital care.

If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions, please feel free to reach out to me at Tyler.Jones@dhsoha.state.or.us or 503-422-2715.


Tyler G. Jones, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer
Oregon State Hospital

CC: Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems
Oregon Association of Community Mental Health Care Programs
Disability Rights Oregon
Dolly Matteucci, Oregon State Hospital Superintendent
OSH Admissions Office