SALEM -- Nurses and union representatives are asking lawmakers for more help caring for the mentally ill at both the Salem and Portland campuses of the Oregon State Hospital.
Hospital staffers tell The Statesman Journal violence at the hospital has reached unacceptable levels. They attribute the problem to having too few staff to take care of the patients.
Data from the hospital shows that in 2012, 66 patients and staff have been injured by hospital patients, as of the end of July. Fifty of those injuries were inflicted on staff.
Hospital superintendent Greg Roberts said the number of injuries has been declining for two years, but it still concerns him.
The nursing department at the state hospital is budgeted for 990 nurses. The original state budget for 2011-13 allocated enough money for 1,065 positions, but Gov. Kitzhaber's budget dropped it down to its current level in May 2011.