Oregon State Hospital calls for more funding as court order demands quicker patient discharge

The Oregon State Hospital is urging lawmakers to boost funding so it can properly treat patients and meet a recent court order to discharge them quicker, a Dec. 8 Oregon Capital Chronicle report said.

The move asking for $4.9 million in funding to hire additional staff comes against a backdrop of a widely "failing" mental health system in the state, the report said. People often cannot access care they need until after they are arrested and sent to the state hospital, while counties often lack adequate resources to help them once released, whether through housing options, treatment or both.

"The system is failing and I think that needs to be recognized," Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton told lawmakers on the House Interim Behavioral Health Committee Dec. 8. "The system is failing on multiple levels."

A federal court order Sept. 1 imposed far stricter limits than before for psychiatric patient treatment, limiting such help to a maximum of 90 days for misdemeanors and up to one year for violent felonies ahead of a requirement to discharge such patients into their communities. Previously, hospital treatment was allowed for up to three years.

The hospital provides services for up to 758 people at its main campus in Salem and a satellite location in Junction City, the report said.

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