Chief medical officer Mark Diamond relished an opportunity to become a leader of the state’s push for change at the much-criticized state hospital.
“Looking at a job where I felt I would be needed and wanted,” he said, summing up the appeal. “And also knowing that a lot of change was forthcoming, and I would be leading this change. I’m pretty good at handling change type of management. So I felt very comfortable.”
Diamond also was impressed by Oregon’s commitment to tear down the existing hospital, which gained notoriety as the setting for the 1975 film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” and build a new facility.
“Think of how many new 600-bed state hospitals are being built in the U.S. right now,” he said. “I’d say very few. I think it speaks well of Oregon that this sort of hospital is being built and that it will be kind of a centerpiece for the mental-health system here in Oregon.”
Diamond previously served as chief of psychiatry at the Institute of Forensic Psychiatry at the Colorado Mental Health Institute of Pueblo, and chief of psychiatry for the Colorado Department of Corrections.
He moved to Salem from Colorado last summer to fill the vacant chief medical officer position. He is the hospital’s highest-paid employee, earning an annual salary of $240,000.
His initiatives have focused on reorganizing the medical staff, encouraging physicians to spend more time with their patients and tailoring treatment plans to the individual needs of patients.
Not everyone is thrilled about rapidly unfolding change, Diamond said.
“There is some resistance, I’m not saying there isn’t,” he said. “Obviously, a lot of people have worked here for a long time. A lot of things were done the same way for a long time.”
Diamond doesn’t seem fazed by an ongoing, nearly four-year U.S. Department of Justice investigation into patient care and hospital conditions.
“I’m kind of used to that process,” he said, citing previous experience with federal investigations at mental health and prison facilities in Colorado.
Diamond said he doesn’t spend a lot of time worrying about the feds possibly suing Oregon for alleged violations of patients civil rights — legal action that could place the hospital under federal court oversight.
“Hopefully, with all the changes being made here, we won’t go in that direction,” he said. “If it turns out we do, so be it. I’m not fearful of it.”
Related articles and documents from the Salem Statesman Journal.
Oregon State Hospital and SEIU Fact Finding Report
Calvin Patterson Outrage E-mails
Oregon State Hospital Salaries and Vacancies Database
A Crisis in Costs, Day 2: State hospital jobs prove challenging
Interactive Oregon State Hospital Timeline
A Crisis in Costs, Day 2: Stress, long hours are ‘almost not worth it’
A Crisis in Costs, Day 2: OSH chief medical officer proud to be leading change
A Crisis in Costs, Day 2: For psychiatrist, mending broken lives is a motivation
A Crisis in Costs, Day 2: Business analyst helps site adapt to new technology
Crisis of Cost, Day 1: Mandated misery at Oregon State Hospital
Crisis of Cost, Day 1: State hospital’s mandatory overtime soars in past year
Crisis of Cost, Day 1: Worries about state hospital persist for Senate president
All items for this series are archived at Rebuilding an Institution: Oregon State Hospital