Matteucci, who will take the helm in mid-March, will arrive from California, where she has served as executive director of Napa State Hospital since 2010. That hospital serves more than 1,200 patients with an annual budget of $305 million, compared to Oregon’s 600-some patients and $250 million annual budget.
Matteucci said in a phone interview that landing the Oregon State Hospital superintendent job is a “dream come true.” She said she sought out the position because she has worked in the California psychiatric hospital system for 30 years and wants to take her skills and apply them “in a hospital that is transformative and that aligns so much with my core values.” Asked what she envisions will be her greatest challenge, Matteucci said learning the culture of the Oregon State Hospital will take time and that she aims to take the hospital’s successes “to the next level.”
Matteucci’s hiring has already triggered criticism from one key lawmaker, Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis. Gelser, who is chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Human Services, tweeted, “Selection of new OSH Super is worrisome. A history of reducing patient rights, describing those w [mental illness] as ‘inherently dangerous’ and creating a law enforcement culture at the Napa Hospital is not the OR way. We must protect the positive change we’ve seen at OSH.” Gelser deleted the tweet minutes after posting it and did not respond to a request for comment.
Asked about Gelser’s tweet, Matteucci said some of her comments about hospital security came after a Napa State Hospital employee was killed by a patient and have been taken out of context. She said each state psychiatric hospital must have different a law enforcement presence based on its needs. She added, “I do not believe people with mental illness are inherently dangerous, no.”
Matteucci worked most of her life within the California psychiatric hospital system, starting as a clinical dietician in the late 1980s and working her way through management and to executive leadership. She has worked at the Napa hospital for more than two decades and accepted the top post there shortly after a patient strangled a hospital employee to death. As is the case in Oregon, most patients confined to her facility have been accused of crimes.
Matteucci said in a news release that she looks forward to joining the Oregon State Hospital, which she said is “a place for healing and a national leader in patient care.”
Oregon Health Authority director Pat Allen said Thursday that he believes Matteucci has the “right mix of compassion and expertise” to continue what he said is Oregon State Hospital’s upward trajectory, dating back to the beginning of its turnaround about a decade ago. Beckie Child, chairwoman of the Oregon State Hospital Advisory Board, said she believes Matteucci is joining the hospital “for all the right reasons.”
Matteucci succeeds highly-respected hospital superintendent Greg Roberts, who oversaw much of the hospital’s rebirth. Roberts has won praise from patient advocates, court officials, lawmakers and law enforcement alike. Since he retired last year the Oregon State Hospital has been led on an interim basis by John Swanson, the Oregon Health Authority’s chief financial and operating officer. Roberts had planned to retire in 2016, but delayed his exit for more than a year because of difficulties finding his replacement.
Two previous searches for a permanent hospital leader did not yield a viable finalist because the salary offered was not competitive, according to people who sat on the interview panels. Matteucci will be paid $235,988 a year, according to a spokeswoman for the psychiatric hospital.
Three kinds of patients are confined to the Oregon State Hospital: people who are guilty of a crime except for their insanity, people receiving treatment for their mental illness so they can stand trial and people who pose an immediate a danger to themselves or others because of mental illness.
Dolly Matteucci to become new superintendent of Oregon State Hospital,/h2>
State of Oregon press release – February 1, 2018
Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen announced the hiring of Dolores “Dolly” Matteucci as superintendent of Oregon State Hospital (OSH). Matteucci steps into her new role leading the hospital in mid-March.
Oregon State Hospital provides patient-centered, psychiatric treatment for adults from throughout the state who need hospital-level care. The hospital treats approximately 600 patients at two campuses located in Salem and Junction City. Oregon State Hospital has earned the Joint Commission’s gold seal of approval for hospital, behavioral health care and laboratory services.
“I am confident that Dolly Matteucci brings the right mix of compassion and expertise to continue the tremendous success Oregon State Hospital has had transforming itself in the last decade,” OHA Director Allen said.
Beckie Child, chair of the state hospital’s advisory board said, “Dolly is coming to the state hospital for all the right reasons. She wants to continue the success of the state hospital as well as her own growth as an administrator. She’s committed to caring for people whose lives have been shaped by trauma and she’s dedicated to helping move the hospital even further in that direction.”
Matteucci currently serves as executive director of Napa State Hospital in California, which she has led since 2010. Napa State Hospital serves 1,281 patients and has an annual budget of $305 million. Matteucci has served in a variety administrative and managerial positions at Napa and other California facilities. She has worked at all levels of a state hospital facility, beginning her career as a clinical dietitian at Napa in 1987.
“I am excited to come to OSH because it is a place for healing and a national leader in patient care,” Matteucci said. “I’ve been incredibly impressed since the first time I visited several years ago. Being able to lead an organization that is so focused on recovery is an incredible opportunity.”
Matteucci was selected by a hiring panel that included a patient, state hospital advisory board members, community partners and labor representatives.
Matteucci succeeds former Oregon State Hospital superintendent Greg Roberts, who retired. Roberts served for six years and led the hospital’s successful turnaround, the rebuilding of the Salem campus and the opening of Junction City.
“Dolly has what it takes to keep the hospital on the right track for providing the best possible care in a therapeutic environment,” Roberts said. “She shares our vision of creating a recovery-oriented hospital culture – which we’ve worked hard to establish over the past several years. Dolly understands that Oregon is very different, and she’s ready to lead the hospital in a positive direction.”