Oregon Health Authority sued over failure to provide mental health facilities

Three of the largest health systems in Oregon have sued the state over failure to provide adequate care for mentally ill patients, according to a Sept. 28 report from The Oregonian/Oregon Live. 

The health systems say that by failing to provide adequate care, the state has forced hospitals to house mental health patients needing treatment. 

Renton, Wash.-based Providence, Portland, Ore.-based Legacy Health, and Vancouver, Wash.-based PeaceHealth allege the Oregon Health Authority has forced them to provide mental health treatment that they are not equipped to give. They say that patients needing mental health treatment should be civilly committed to psychiatric institutions like the Oregon State Hospital. 

"The necessary components for safe and effective treatment provided at long-term care facilities — such as security, private rooms, kitchens and physical exercise — are not feasible at hospitals that are also responsible for meeting the short-term acute care needs of their communities," the three facilities noted in a joint statement to The Oregonian/Oregon Live. "As a result, patients left in these environments by OHA do not receive needed care and, in many cases, decompensate back to unstable conditions."

The hospital capacity crisis in Oregon extends to the state's psychiatric hospital. In addition, a recent court ruling strictly limits who can be admitted to the facility.  

State hospital spokesperson Amber Shoebridge did not comment on the lawsuit but emphasized the hospital's dedication to caring for its patients. 

"Oregon Health Authority and Oregon State Hospital remain focused on the care of the hospital's patients and supporting them on their road to recovery as they search for a new path forward," Ms. Shoebridge wrote in an email to The Oregonian/Oregon Live.

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