Dedicated staff makes new hospital even better

Written by Lynnette Miller, an office specialist 2 at Oregon State Hospital, for the Salem Statesman Journal – March 25, 2011

I work at the new Oregon State Hospital Harbors Treatment Mall in Lighthouse 1. This unit cares for the most violent male patients who come from around the state for treatment because they have committed a crime.

This is one of the most difficult units to work on.

With so much negative press about Oregon State Hospital in recent years, I wanted to share some of the positive things. With the new hospital facility now open and due for completion in 2012, I have had the pleasure of working with the staff of RNs, LPNs, MHTs, staff and psychiatrists who put their lives on the line every day. The genuine care and professionalism I witness is extraordinary.

With recent stories of patients being mistreated and uncared for, people on the outside need to know the good things that happen every day. I am honored to be working with so many people — including departmental directors, peer support specialists, hospital administrative staff, art therapists and volunteers — whose mission is to care for and provide support for our patients. These individuals work extremely hard to make sure each and every patient is cared for, given some dignity and respect, while administering difficult treatments to a very difficult patient population.

The new hospital is absolutely beautiful. I would imagine patient morale is better just being in a new place with new carpet, paint, updated fixtures, new gyms, nice outdoor areas to walk in and new places to eat. The recently remodeled Kirkbride Building on Center Street is fantastic; you would never know there had been an old ward inside dating back to 1883. No signs of the past anymore, just brand new offices.

From what I’ve been told, the last building to have been built on state hospital grounds was back in 1950. A new mental hospital has been long overdue.

More than 600 contractors have done an amazing job in restructuring existing buildings and building new ones. But the most important aspects of the hospital are the people who work every day to ensure staff and patients are safe and getting the appropriate treatment they need.

Everyone is caring and highly professional. I have admirable respect for the staff at Oregon State Hospital and couldn’t imagine what the hospital and patients would be like without them.

Patients who come into our hospital usually do so one reason: They have committed a crime. They are sentenced to undergo treatment for a specific number of days before their trial. These individuals come in angry, hurt, beaten, and destroyed by past and current situations. We all have to remember those who suffer from mental illnesses and commit crimes also have to serve the time given to them. Unfortunately, most of these patients don’t agree with that.

Oregon State Hospital’s goal is to get these individuals healthy and hopefully some day they will be back out into our communities in better shape than when they came in. Oregon State Hospital workers should be commended for their dedication and service to these people. They are phenomenal.