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Patients move in to newest wing at Oregon State Hospital

Lynn Jones unpacks her things in her new room. Jones says the extra space in Trails has a calming effect on patients.

August 17, 2011 - Patients were greeted by smiling faces, open spaces and welcome baskets as they walked into their new units at Oregon State Hospital yesterday.

The move was the second in a series of three patient moves into the new facility. The hospital is opening in phases as each new section is completed. The third and final move is planned for early 2012.

Trails, the newest living and treatment wing, houses 174 patients in the community rehabilitation program. The three-story structure contains nine living units, two treatment malls and two dining halls.

Superintendent Greg Roberts said the move went well overall. "It was as smooth as silk," Roberts said. "Today's success was the result of the excellent preparation and hard work by the planning committees."

Patients and staff socialize in one of two activity rooms on "Flowers 2," one of the nine new units in Trails. Trails is the hospital's new community rehabilitation program, currently housing 174 patients.

Roberts also spoke of the advantages the new building has over the old "50 building" where most of the patients had been living. "The new building is a great improvement over the old one, with more treatment space and smaller staff-to-patient ratios. Trails is much more therapeutic and enables us to provide a wider variety of treatment options."

Many of the patients seem pleased with Trails and happy with their new rooms. "This is great. I love the color of the tiles, and the paint is nice. The lights are not too bright," said Rickie Mongomery. "It feels pretty relaxed and comforting here, more serene."

Montgomery was not the only one who mentioned how much more tranquil the new environment felt compared to the old, where up to five people would share a room and entire units used the same shower room. "I have a stronger sense of personal space here than I did in the 50 building," said Lynn Jones. "There's more room, which takes away that crowded feeling. More room creates a calming affect."

"My room is beautiful, and I like having my own bathroom," said Carol Munton. She also talked about how Trails offers more choice and autonomy, both of which are very important for recovery. "I like that I don't have to ask staff to go outside or use the ice machine. I like that I can walk to my bench work job [in the vocational program] from here." This flexibility is possible because all of the new hospital's services are located inside the same secure area.

Guy Forson, occupational therapist, and Kim Salzillo, one of the new residents of Trails, sit in an "air court" on the second floor of Trails. Each unit in the new hospital has an open-air space where patients can go to relax and get some fresh air.

Kim Salzillo added, "I especially like that there are no [razor] wires on the wall."

Recreational therapist Guy Forson said he is looking forward to having living units close to the treatment areas, as well as to the enhanced treatment opportunities provided by the new building.

"The new mall will make it easer to teach a variety of different classes," Forson said. "We have twice the space, the rooms are nicer and we can have a larger number of people in a group."

Forson also said the new building looks much more like a hospital, and he believes patients will be more apt to invite their families to visit.

"It's really nice to have a good facility for them to live in. It means a lot to see them happy. This building will raise their quality of life."