May 14th, 2013 11:30 am | by ANDREA DAMEWOOD News | Posted In: Activism, Health, Politics, Legislature

Junction City Mental Hospital Foes Start Petition to Stop It

Legislature looks set to give the 174-bed facility $80 million

news_junctioncityhospital_3911WATERCOLOR WONDER: Advocates are flummoxed that the state of Oregon’s plans for a new mental health hospital in Junction City include cutting all commitment beds in the Portland area and east of the Cascades. - IMAGE:
The Oregon Legislature appears poised to give a planned mental hospital in Junction City $80 million, despite the fact that mental health advocates loathe the idea.

As WW reported in January, mental health experts say building the 174-bed Junction City hospital adds the wrong kind of treatment beds in Oregon, taking the state in the opposite direction from where it should go: toward smaller, less-expensive facilities located near high-population areas—including Portland.

But the Eugene Register-Guard reported May 10 that "it appears to be a virtual certainty that lawmakers will vote this year to spend the almost $80 million needed to build the structures and finish the project."

The story says even opponents believe the facility—championed by Rep. Val Hoyle (D-Eugene) whose district would get 2,500 construction jobs and up to 600 permanent jobs—is inevitable. But that hasn't stopped the Mental Health Association of Portland from starting a petition to House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland), asking her to reconsider the money.

"While wards in the newly built hospital in Salem stand empty, a new hospital, in a small town without resources, is unnecessary and unwanted by the mental health community," the site reads. "Operations costs may reach hundreds of millions over decades of unwanted and unwarranted treatments"

So far, the petition has 152 signatures. The bill that includes the funding for the hospital, Senate Bill 5507, will have three public hearings in Salem this month, the first being this Friday at 1:30 pm.
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