Superintendent of Dammasch State Hospital to retire

From the Oregonian – October 20, 1987. Not available elsewhere online.

Dr. Victor M. Holm, the superintendent of Dammasch State Hospital in Wilsonville for the past seven years, announced his retirement Monday, citing what he called a “mutual” decision he had reached with Kevin Concannon, the new state Human Resources chief.

Concannon announced his decision to accept Holm’s retirement Monday in a letter released by the state Mental Health Division. Concannon could not be reached for comment Monday. Holm said he would remain on the job through Dec. 12 to help run the hospital and to help his successor.

Holm said that he had been considering retirement since last summer and that he had submitted a letter to Concannon last week expressing his intention to retire at the end of the year.

“I wanted to retire,” Holm said. “He (Concannon) wanted to make changes in the administration of all hospitals and the state Mental Health Division.”

The new Dammasch State Hospital is shown in this 1960 aerial view.

The new Dammasch State Hospital is shown in this 1960 aerial view.

Holm’s retirement will complete a clean sweep of the superintendents of Oregon’s three largest mental health institutions this year and comes as part of a major reorganization of the state Mental Health Division under Gov. Neil Goldschmidt.

The state announced the reassignment of Jerry McGee, the longtime superintendent of Fairview Training Center for the mentally retarded, in early May, just after the state received results of a federal inspection critical of the institution. The inspection resulted in a 14-week cutoff of federal Medicaid and Medicare funding for inadequate staffing and poor care.

The state also has yet to replace Robert J. Benning, the former superintendent of Oregon State Hospital, who resigned his job effective May 22, to take a job with a private hospital in Tennessee.

On the same day that Benning officially resigned, Joseph E. Murray, the administrator of the state Mental Health Division, announced his resignation.

Murray was replaced initially by Concannon, a former state mental health and corrections chief in Maine.

Concannon was elevated by Goldschmidt to director of the state Department of Human Resources earlier this month.

Holm said his stay at Dammasch had been “deeply rewarding” but that it had also been “frustrating some of the time” because he believed he had been given limited resources to care for patients.

In his letter, Concannon praised Holm for leading Dammasch through “difficult years” during which he had “lean” resources. He said that Holm had had to work with fewer staff members “than what your professional judgment dictated.”

On Oct. 9, the Legislative Emergency Board approved a $900,000 plan to put 50 of Dammasch ‘s 380 mentally ill residents into community programs. The move was designed to bring Dammasch ‘s population down to 330, a number that had been specified in its 1987-89 budget as an upper limit, but which has been exceeded for much of this year.

Holm said that the new population cut would help but that he believed the hospital still had “not enough resources” to properly care for 330 patients.

The federal Health Care Financing Adminstration last year revoked the hospital’s certification to receive federal Medicare and Medicaid funding. The federal agency cited the hospital’s failure to meet federal treatment standards.

Holm said the loss of certification and the inability of the state to pay for improvements needed to regain it had been a “big disappointment.”

“It ultimately played a role in the decision” to retire, he said.

Holm had served as a clinical director at both Dammasch and Oregon State hospitals for about two years before being appointed superintendent.

He previously had served for 21 years as a captain and a psychiatrist in the Navy. He was for a time the chief of psychiatry at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.