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DHS news release

August 30, 2005


Contact: Jim Sellers (503) 945-5738

Program contact: Bob Nikkel (503) 945-9708


Architects begin second planning phase for new state hospital



The state has signed a $350,000 contract with KMD Architects to undertake the second planning phase for community mental health services and for a modern state hospital to replace the existing Salem facility that first opened to patients in 1883.


The architects' recommendations are due to Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) officials in February.


"This will be a major step in giving the governor and legislators details about siting alternatives, likely costs and how a new state hospital would be integrated into a strengthened statewide community mental health system," said Bob Nikkel, DHS mental health administrator.


Under terms of the contract, KMD Architects will also recommend populations to be served by a new state hospital, functional space and program design, how to dispose of existing hospital property (including handling of historic elements), and whether a new state hospital ought to be a shared facility with the Oregon Department of Corrections. (Forensic admissions -- patients found guilty of a crime except for mental illness -- account for a majority of the hospital's 700-plus patients.)


Nikkel said DHS would take the architects' recommendations to the legislative Emergency Board in April 2006, which was authorized by the 2005 Oregon Legislature to approve financing for a new hospital's preliminary planning and design as well as for construction of one or more community mental health facilities. He said planning and design work ought to be done in time for the Oregon Legislature to begin considering a construction appropriation in April 2007.


Oregon State Hospital, located at 2600 Center St., N.E., in Salem, is the West Coast's oldest continuously operated hospital. "All of the buildings are old and have exceeded their useful life as components of a modern psychiatric hospital," KMD Architects concluded in its first report, delivered in May. "It would be cost-prohibitive to renovate and/or to add to these buildings to achieve modern treatment and recovery standards in a cost-effective manner."


In that report, KMD Architects detailed shortcomings such as crowding of patients on many wards; excessive maintenance and utility costs resulting from old equipment and poor insulation; high summer temperatures owing to lack of air-conditioning; restricted sight lines that impede staff observation of patients; presence of lead and asbestos; failure to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards; and possible collapse of the so-called J Building along the south side of Center Street in a major earthquake.


KMD Architects is a San Francisco-based architectural firm with offices in Portland.