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Inspectors: State hospital campus failed to protect patients

The 134-page report paints a picture of a facility that routinely failed to safeguard patients even after unsafe conditions had been documented.
Credit: Oregon Health Authority

JUNCTION CITY, Ore. — State inspectors have found a series of lapses at the Oregon State Hospital’s campus in Junction City, including failures to take steps to protect patients from physical harm.

The inquiry began last year when a Junction City patient walked away from an outing late and remained at large for several weeks, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. Its scope grew as inspectors identified other problems.

The resulting 134-page report paints a picture of a facility that routinely failed to safeguard patients even after unsafe conditions had been documented.

The lapses put patients in danger from other patients, resulting in at least one alleged sexual assault and physical attacks, inspectors alleged, and staff also failed to protect patients from self-harm. Many patients are institutionalized through the criminal justice system.

RELATED: Consultant suggests fixes for Oregon State Hospital admission woes

The resulting report puts the satellite campus in danger of losing its Medicare and Medicaid certification, which would cost the state hospital millions.

The hospital has until Sunday to submit its plan for correcting the issues. In statements, Oregon State Hospital Superintendent Dolly Matteucci and Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen pledged to address the findings.

“Our staff at the Oregon State Hospital want to provide the highest quality care to our patients so they can recover and return to live healthy and productive lives in their communities,” Matteucci said. “We look forward to addressing each of the administrative, documentation and supervision issues highlighted in this report.”

In February, a consultant released a report on Oregon State Hospital's slow admissions and overwhelmed capacity. 

Dr. Debra Pinals, a behavioral health director from the Michigan Department of Heath and Human Services, was brought in after Disability Rights Oregon and Metropolitan Public Defender agreed with Oregon Health Authority to bring in an outside expert to study the issues that have plagued the hospital for years.

Disability Rights Oregon said the hospital has failed to quickly admit patients found unable to appear in court on their own defense. The organization also said those patients are kept in jail without the mental health services they need.

Pinals' 20-page report recommends making more efforts to discharge or avoid admitting patients who don't need hospital-level care. 

RELATED: Multnomah County's Behavioral Health Resource Center set to open in downtown Portland this year

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