Oregon Department of Human Services Director's Message
August 29, 2008 DHS Director's messages on the web
To: All DHS employees
From: Bruce Goldberg, M.D., director
"The greatest danger to our future is apathy."
~Jane Goodall
Next Wednesday in Salem we are holding the groundbreaking ceremony for the first of two new state-operated psychiatric treatment hospitals planned for Oregon. This exciting event marks the shift from preparation to construction, from planning to action, as we continue to strengthen the state's mental health treatment system.
Oregon State Hospital interior
Oregon State Hospital: This crumbling former ward is in the "J" Building facing Center Street. Parts of this building will be demolished.

Once this hospital is completed, it will serve as an important component in a continuum of mental health care services for Oregonians. That's why this event is about more than just constructing a new building -- it's about ensuring all Oregonians get access to the mental health services they need, when and where they need them.

Our goal is to create a community-based mental health treatment system that ensures access to quality services for everyone throughout our state. We want people facing mental health issues to receive the prevention and early intervention services they need in the communities where they live before problems progress to a point that requires hospitalization. People do better when they can stay near the family and social supports they need to thrive.

But if hospitalization is required, then we want to be able to offer Oregonians the best treatment possible. And that's what this new facility will provide, a state-of-the-art recovery center.

It's well past time to improve the facilities where we treat some of our most vulnerable citizens. The newest building on the Oregon State Hospital Salem campus was built in 1955. Some of the campus structures literally are falling down around our patients and staff. Not only are many parts of the hospital inconvenient, they are unsafe. Our patients, their families and our staff all deserve better.

Our hospital employees are talented, dedicated and caring individuals who have worked under very difficult conditions for many years. They face a range of challenges that hinder their ability to deliver the most effective care to our patients -- deteriorating buildings, too many time-consuming manual record-keeping processes, ongoing staff shortages and a greater need for services than they can meet.

Oregon State Hospital
Oregon State Hospital: This part of the original Kirkbride "U" Building will be preserved.

A new state hospital facility, new electronic record-keeping, improved recruitment processes and the development of more community-based services all are part of our commitment to strengthening the delivery and effectiveness of mental health care services for everyone. The new Salem hospital represents the progress we are making toward achieving a vision of a mental health care continuum of which everyone can be proud.

It also represents how much Oregonians can accomplish when we work together on a shared goal. The development of a new Salem hospital was achieved through a multi-year inclusive process involving the leadership of Governor Ted Kulongoski, Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney, many other state legislators, county and local leaders, stakeholders such as former patients and their families, and mental health care providers and non-profit agencies. Their dream is being realized with this groundbreaking.

And I would like to invite you to share in this historic occasion. The groundbreaking takes place Wednesday, Sept. 3, at 10:30 a.m. on the hospital grounds on the south side of 2600 Center St. NE in Salem. Please join us for this significant event.

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DHS on the web