Junction City facility celebrates 1st anniversary – half empty

Note: The Mental Health Association of Portland opposed building this institution. For example, see our op-ed in the Register-Guard, “Junction City hospital the worst way to treat mentally ill.”

Junction City hospital

Oregon State Hospital officials are celebrating the first anniversary of the mental-health agency’s $84 million Junction City campus, but the secure residential facility on Highway 99 is still far from being fully occupied with patients and staff.

The state opened the 222,000-square-foot hospital in March 2015. It can have up to 174 patients, but currently has just 75 and is at full capacity because only three of the six 25-bed living units are staffed and operational, officials said.

The state will open a fourth 25-bed unit in May, and the campus expects to hire about 46 workers in the next six months to handle that expansion.

The campus has not announced when it plans to open the fifth and sixth units.

In one initial forecast, the hospital said planned to open all six units between 2015 and 2017, if the agency had enough money. But a decrease in the need for the beds plus budget changes have stretched out the startup process, said spokeswoman Susan Stigers.

The hospital does have a waitlist of civil-commitment patients needing to move in, however, the state said.

The Junction City campus has 279 staff members, officials said.

The current level of staffing is behind what the state in January 2015 anticipated. At that time, the state said the hospital would be fully staffed in the spring of 2015, at 330 employees, and could later rise to 400 employees.

“We believe the hospital campus, in keeping with our mission statement, has met expectations for the year,” Stigers said.

The hospital is currently hiring to staff the new unit. Job postings can be found at www.oregon.gov/jobs .

Since opening, the campus has provided mental health services to 166 people, 88 of whom have been discharged back to their communities, hospital officials said.

In the course of the year, the campus has served patients from across much of Oregon, excluding the Portland area and the northwest. Patients have come from Lincoln, Benton, Linn, Lane, Douglas, Coos, Curry, Josephine, Jackson, Klamath, Lake and the Eastern Oregon counties, Stigers said.

“The majority of the clients are currently from Lane County,” Stigers added.

The psychiatric hospital treats those who have been civilly committed or who have pleaded guilty except for insanity. Prior to the opening of the Junction City campus, such patients were placed at the main Oregon State Hospital in Salem and in several regional campuses.

In the last year, services at the Junction City campus have been split half and half between patients who have been civilly committed, and those who have committed a crime, Stigers said. Several of the patients have been transferred from other state campuses, although Stigers did not provide a number of total transfers.

The cost to build the hospital, on a per-bed basis, was $483,000.