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DHS news release

August 21, 2007


Contact: Jim Sellers 503-945-5738
Program contact: Marvin Fickle, M.D. 503-945-2852


State Hospital superintendent to retire; national search for successor begins




Oregon State Hospital Superintendent Marvin Fickle, M.D., instrumental in securing legislative and public support for replacing the crowded and aging facility in Salem, has announced his retirement effective Oct. 1.


Fickle, 58, Lake Oswego, has been superintendent and chief medical officer for the two-campus hospital since April 2004. A forensic psychiatrist, he also served as the hospital's chief medical officer for five years in the 1990s.


"Marvin Fickle helped the state craft the master plan for new hospitals, win a commitment from the Oregon Legislature and secure the greatest public understanding of mental health in our state's history," said Bob Nikkel, Oregon Department of Human Services assistant director for addictions and mental health. "He helped move Oregon mental health services into the 21st century."


Nikkel said Fickle's accomplishments will yield an exciting opportunity for a successor, who will move hospital operations into new state-operated psychiatric facilities in Salem in 2011 and Junction City in 2013. Nikkel said a nationwide search will include both advertising and direct contact with mental health professionals.


Nikkel named Maynard Hammer of Salem, now deputy superintendent, as interim superintendent beginning Oct. 1. An interim chief medical officer will be named soon, Nikkel said.


"Marvin has given us vigorous leadership in improving patient treatment and care, improving discharge planning for patients leaving the hospital and communicating the hospital's needs to policy makers and the public," Nikkel said. "On the public side, he has led hundreds of people on tours of the hospital, given uncounted interviews and worked closely with journalists to tell the hospital's story." Oregonian editors who worked with Fickle and others to produce a series of editorials about the need for a new hospital won a Pulitzer Prize in 2006.


The first portion of the existing state hospital opened in 1883, and the Salem campus's newest major building opened in 1955. The 700-patient hospital also operates a campus in Portland.


An Oregon native born in Myrtle Point⊃1;, Fickle began his career as a psychiatrist in private practice and a psychiatric consultant in Los Angeles. He returned to Oregon in 1992 as chief medical officer of what is now Blue Mountain Recovery Center in Pendleton. He subsequently worked as superintendent of Dammasch State Hospital in Wilsonville, which closed in 1995, and as chief psychiatrist for the Oregon Department of Corrections in Salem.


Fickle holds a medical degree (1977) from the University of Southern California and a bachelor's degree (1972) from the University of California at Berkeley.


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1. The news release originally misidentified Fickle's birthplace. It was corrected Aug. 23, 2007.