The new Citizen Advisory Board for the Oregon State Hospital met for the first time yesterday.
The Board was created by the legislature this summer to oversee the troubled state mental hospital in Salem.
The hospital has made the news this month for the death of a patient that wasn’t discovered until hours later and the dismissal of a patient’s lawsuit on technical grounds.
In two thousand eight, a federal investigation found that conditions at the hospital compromised patients care and safety.
Activists hope that the oversight of the sixteen member Advisory Board will help to improve conditions at the hospital.
Of the sixteen board seats, one is reserved for a former patient of the hospital and one is reserved for another consumer of mental health services.
There are also two seats reserved for residents of the Hospital’s Salem neighborhood, three for mental health advocates, and three for healthcare professionals.
Members were appointed by the Governor and approved by the State Senate Employees of the hospital are represented on the board but cannot vote.
The first session yesterday affirmed the board’s mission, but did not produce a concrete set of goals.
State Senator Peter Courtney reminded the board that it needed to look at the hospital’s overall workings and not focus too much on patient treatment.
Courtney does not vote on the board.
Jason Renaud, of the Mental Health Association of Portland, in the online interview below, says the board will not solve all the Hospital’s problems, but he hopes for constructive progress.