A Crisis in Costs, Day 2: State hospital jobs prove challenging

From the Salem Statesman Journal, May 24, 2010Dr. Stephanie Lopez has been a forensic psychiatrist for Oregon State Hospital for almost a year, working in Building 48 of the J Building.

Why anyone would choose to work at the Oregon State Hospital might seem like a mystery, given crumbling facilities, chronic understaffing and ongoing scrutiny by federal investigators.

But clearcut reasons why people have decided to work at the Salem psychiatric facility emerged in Statesman Journal interviews with four first-year employees:

Psychiatrist Stephanie Lopez was lured by the promise of taking part in a progressive era of care for mentally ill patients.

Chief medical officer Mark Diamond wanted to become a catalyst for change at the century-old hospital.

Mental health therapist Sharon Mangan needed stable employment after the economy buckled.

Business analyst Joy O’Hearn was intrigued by the notion of bringing new technology to the outdated institution.

The four employees are part of a fast-growing work force that is dealing with rapid changes at the 627-bed, 1,280-employee hospital in central Salem. A new 620-bed hospital is being built to replace the existing 127-year-old complex along Center Street NE.

The hospital also is in the midst of a hiring boom, expanding the staff with more than 500 new positions authorized by state legislators in a $36 million package aimed at fixing severe understaffing.

Three of the four employees — Lopez, Diamond and O’Hearn — described their jobs in upbeat terms. In sharp contrast, Mangan has been rocked by patient-caused violence and mandatory overtime. She now dreads going to work.

Click here to read the next story in the series.

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