|From patient to mental health advocate ||12/16/2019|
When Paul Ruggles was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, his world fell apart. One moment, he was a happy-go-lucky teenager planning for college. The next, he was catapulted into a disease marked by delusions, medications and self-loathing.
“It was not the prejudice of others that was so devastating and so disabling, it was my own,” Ruggles said. “If I had been told I had diabetes, it would have been so much easier to figure out how to adjust my insulin level and move on.”
Only through working with the Early Assessment and Support Team – now known as the Early Assessment & Support Alliance (EASA) – did Ruggles get the help he needed. That’s when he stopped blaming himself for having an illness he couldn’t control.
It’s also when he first shared his story with Oregon’s Joint Ways and Means Committee. His testimony, delivered 11 years ago, spurred legislators to give EASA $4.3 million to fund mental health services for teens and young adults.
For Ruggles, that moment cemented his decision to become a mental health advocate.
“I’m focused on doing something with my recovery and making an impact somewhere,” said Ruggles, who is now a member of Oregon State Hospital’s Advisory Board. “There’s a lot that needs to be done.”
Journey to wellness
These days, Ruggles spends his time serving the hospital’s advisory board, which works to ensure OSH policies and procedures support patient care, safety and security.
He also volunteers with the Joseph Phillip Loftus Jr. Mobile Museum in Stayton, Ore., which showcases NASA history and artifacts. Through scheduling and grant writing, he helps the museum bring NASA engineers to Oregon each year to talk with rural school children.
His life is far different today than it was just a few years ago, Ruggles said. Now 30, he had spent much of his adulthood in and out of hospitals for psychiatric treatment. Eventually, he was forced to put his college plans on hold.
Later, when his father and grandfather committed suicide within a year of one another, Ruggles reached his breaking point. That’s when he went through the civil commitment process to become a patient at Oregon State Hospital. He remained there for several months in 2018.
Ruggles said the best part of his time at OSH was his therapy sessions with Clinical Psychologist Katie Davenport. Because of her, he learned how to process his grief and not be so critical of himself.
Davenport, too, said Ruggles made a strong impression with her. She was struck by his drive, insightfulness and intelligence, and said he was committed to his recovery.
“By the time he left, he had developed much more self-awareness for the positive aspects of his personality,” she said. “He understood that change is work, and he was willing to do the work.”
From this point forward, Ruggles said he plans to make positive decisions for his life – including taking his medications, continuing with counseling, and surrounding himself with people who love and support him.
He’s invested in becoming a peer recovery specialist, so he can use his experiences to inspire others who struggle with mental health challenges. He also wants to work with Oregon State Hospital – and community mental health providers – to ensure people receive the help they need, when they need it.
“I’ve had a lot of opportunities to be forgotten in the system, but people made a point to reach out and help me with my mental health journey,” he said. “I think I should reach out and try to help others like I was helped.”
|OSH Caring Tree Project under way ||12/2/2019|
Entering Oregon State Hospital is like walking into a winter wonderland. Glittery snowflakes drip from the ceiling. Strings of lights twinkle like fireflies, and brightly wrapped gift boxes jockey for attention.
At the center of it all is the Caring Tree, where patients share their holiday hopes and wishes on paper tags. One patient hopes for a plush blanket and a new sweatshirt. Another wants a pair of flannel pajamas, and a third craves a two-pound box of chocolates.
As the director of Volunteer Services, Jeff Jessel’s mission is to see that these requests are fulfilled.
“The goal of the Caring Tree Project is to ensure no patient is left empty handed during the holidays,” he said. “When they receive their gifts, they know someone cares.”
How it works
Patients begin by completing a gift request form. They choose from a wide range of items – including DVDs, clothing, blankets and games. Caring Tree staff will create a unique gift tag for each patient and hang it on the OSH Caring Trees. The tag contains the patient’s top two gift choices, gender and age range.
Those who wish to purchase an anonymous gift can simply pull a tag from one of the trees. Additional tags are available by request to outside organizations, state agencies, businesses and community members.
Gift tags are now available for pick up in the lobbies on the Salem campus, and they’ll be available for pick up in the Junction City campus lobby beginning Dec. 2.
People are asked to drop off their donations within a week of picking up the gift tag to allow time to screen the items for safety. However, Caring Tree staff will put gift tags for newly admitted patients on the trees throughout December.
People may deliver unwrapped gifts to OSH, or they can arrange to have them picked up at their home or office by contacting the Volunteer Services Department. Gifts are delivered to patients on Dec. 25.
Since the gift-giving tradition began in 1986, businesses, community members and OSH staff have donated nearly 50,000 items for patients to enjoy.
“Our volunteers work so hard to make this event a success,” said Jessel, noting how each present is nestled in tissue paper, wrapped with festive paper, and adorned with homemade bows. “It’s amazing how the outside community bands together to help. Their efforts have a direct impact on the recovery of our patients.”
How you can help
You can support the Caring Tree project through donations, contributions or by volunteering. OSH devotes more than 600 volunteer hours toward this project each year and offers numerous ways you can help, including:
- Dec. 9-13: Gift sorting, assembly and packaging from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the Salem campus. Volunteers will receive training on how to inspect items for safety. Due to space limitations, appointments are required.
- Dec. 16-19: Gift wrapping from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the Salem campus. Due to space limitations, appointments are required.
For more information about the Caring Tree Project – or to volunteer with gift sorting and wrapping – please contact OSH Volunteer Services at OSHVolunteer.Services@dhsoha.state.or.us or call 503-945-2892.
|New Video: Welcome to Oregon State Hospital ||10/24/2019|
Just like any hospital, Oregon State Hospital aims to help people get well and return to their lives in the community.
In this five-minute video, you’ll see the living areas where patients eat and sleep. You’ll explore the treatment malls, and you’ll learn about available work and educational opportunities – all designed to teach people skills they will need to be successful after discharge.
We hope this video will give you a better understanding of the hospital and the services it provides. In collaboration with our patients, we are partners in wellness.
watch the video
|OSH Friends and Family Day celebrates fellowship||10/18/2019|
Nearly 40 patients – and 66 of their friends and family members – took part in Friends and Family Day at Oregon State Hospital’s Salem Campus on Sept. 28.
The purpose of the event was to create a festive and welcoming environment where friends and family of patients could enjoy an extended visit. They were able to share a meal, and they talked with staff to learn about the hospital and the services it provides.
“This gives my family a chance to see where I’m living and how I’m living,” said Matthew Gabbard of Bridge 2. “Having them here is uplifting. They can see how I’m still growing and learning.”
This was the hospital’s third Friends and Family event since last fall. The next ones are planned for March on the Salem campus and April on the Junction City campus.
For many families, the highlight of the day was the photo booth – which enabled them to take a keepsake family photo to take home with them. Others said they liked talking with hospital staff – including social workers, peer recovery specialists and family support specialists. Visitors also appreciated learning about the types of therapy the hospital offers.
Annette Valdivia, Gabbard’s mom, said she drives to Salem from the California Bay Area every month to see her son. This was the first time she toured the hospital, and she enjoyed learning about the spaces where he spends his time.
“Now, I’m feeling more at ease about him being here,” she said, adding that she loved the pottery room and the outdoor quads. “He has so many resources available, and that makes me feel good.”
Reassuring families is one, key, reason why the hospital hosts Friends and Family Day, said Superintendent Dolly Matteucci. Through this event, she hopes to share information about the hospital and encourage family involvement in their loved one’s care.
“The purpose of Friends and Family Day is to bring patients, staff, family and friends together to celebrate the community at OSH,” she said. “We all have a role to play in helping patients on their recovery journey.”
For more information about Friends and Family Day, call Consumer & Family Services at 503-947-8109 or email OSH.ConsumerFamilyServices@state.or.us.
|A time of remembrance, celebration||9/27/2019|
Two years ago, Morgan Allara received a letter from a volunteer genealogist, letting him know the ashes of his great-grandfather were housed at Oregon State Hospital. Caught off guard, Allara set the letter aside and forgot about it.
Only when his grandson’s research confirmed the letter’s contents, did Allara choose to act.
“It’s because of my grandson Benji’s inspiration that I came forward,” said Allara, who lives in Milwaukie, Ore. “I was ready. Coming forward was the right thing to do.”
Allara was one of nearly 150 people who attended Oregon State Hospital’s memorial ceremony on Sept. 19. The purpose of the event was to celebrate the reunification of families with the cremated remains of 103 patients from Oregon State Hospital, 22 patients from Fairview Training Center, two from Oregon State Penitentiary, and four from the Tuberculosis hospital. Their bodies were cremated at the OSH facility between 1914 and 1973.
The ceremony featured music and remarks from several people, including OSH Superintendent Dolly Matteucci. Afterward, family members received the cremated remains of their loved ones and ancestors.
“I am so happy to share this event with you to celebrate another 131 people on their journey home,” Matteucci said during the event. “Every day, every month and every year, we strive to ensure that people we serve today – and those served in the past – are not forgotten.”
Damion Blair is Allara’s son-in-law and a director of nursing services for the hospital. Moved by the ceremony, he said he saw the event through the lens of a participant – instead of a nurse – for the first time.
“This gave me a newfound appreciation for the families who come forward and for the patients who are here,” he said. “This event highlighted the importance of recognizing our mistakes and fixing them.”
When these former patients passed away, no one came forward to claim their ashes. Sometimes, there was no one to notify, or the family was too poor to afford a burial. Other times, the stigma of mental illness kept people at bay.
Oregon State Hospital has served as custodian of the remains ever since – beginning with the remains of 3,500 individuals. To date, nearly 800 of them have been claimed by their descendants.
The memorial was dedicated in the summer of 2014. Each year since then, hospital staff take apart the memorial’s columbarium walls to remove the ceramic urns and give them to the families who’ve come forward during the past year.
Grateful he attended this year’s ceremony, Allara said he has many unanswered questions about his grandfather, John S. Pitt. He does know Pitt was admitted to the hospital in 1927 for senility, and that he died six months later at the age of 83.
“What has been preserved here is so important,” he said. “I am very thankful for this ceremony, and I can only hope that this tradition at Oregon State Hospital continues.”
Matthew Gabbard, a patient on Bridge 2, normally works one-on-one with a pair of service dogs – teaching them how to back up, weave around chairs, and fetch keys.
But when a dozen, 9-week-old puppies visited Oregon State Hospital recently, he assumed a new role. Through petting, cuddling and throwing them toys, he taught the animals that people are trustworthy and safe.
“Seeing them at this stage puts a twinkle in your heart,” Gabbard said. “I feel like a kid again.”
The puppies are slated to become service dogs through Joys of Living Assistance Dogs (JLAD)
, a Salem-based nonprofit that pairs dogs with people who have disabilities. Late last year, JLAD partnered with OSH to create the Service Dog Training Program, the only one of its kind among state psychiatric hospitals.
The program enables OSH patients to train service animals before people in the community receive them. So far, one of the dogs trained at the hospital has graduated and now lives in his forever home.
“Training starts when the puppies are born,” said Catherine Comden, an OSH staff member who teaches the patient trainers. “Through this visit, our patients got to see another slice of the training continuum. They learned that it takes a team of handlers and volunteers to make this program work.”
While the patient trainers played with the puppies, several other patients were invited to cuddle with them. For Comden, this was a sight to behold.
“I saw an individual laughing and engaging in a way I have never before seen,” she said. “When I put a puppy on his lap, he became a different person. Sometimes, cuddling with a vulnerable, soft puppy can really unlock people.”
Joy St. Peter, founder and director of JLAD, agrees. She brought the puppies to the hospital to help socialize them. When they’re a little older, some may even return for more formalized training.
“I’ve never seen so many smiles in one room,” she said. “People are walking in – whether they’re staff or a resident – and they are just smiling like crazy. Everybody is in such a good mood.”
Ambre of Bridge 1 worked as a service dog trainer for nearly a year. She said getting to play with a dozen happy puppies made her day.
“Service dogs do such great things for people, and even at this stage, the puppies are learning so much,” she said. “Being with them was heaven.”
Read more about the service dog training program in the Spring issue of the Recovery Times
|Spreading messages of hope ||9/16/2019|
About a dozen Oregon State Hospital staff and patients attended “Hands Across the Bridge” at Salem’s Riverfront Park on Sept. 6.
The purpose of the event was to honor people in recovery and to remember those who lost their lives to addiction and mental health challenges.
Sponsored and organized by the Marion-Polk Peer Coalition
, “Hands Across the Bridge” began 13 years ago. The event now attracts hundreds of people from throughout Oregon, who gather for support and fellowship.
“When so many people come together, you realize you are not alone,” said Max Greenway of Bridge 1. “It’s really moving.”
Kris Anderson and Jerry Weller, peer recovery specialists for Oregon State Hospital, staffed a resource table at the fair. They said they were excited to share information about public offerings available at the Sjolander Empowerment Center, which include a theater ensemble, a public speaking group and seasonal activities. The center is on hospital grounds and gives patients and community members a place to attend support group meetings and enjoy the companionship of others.
For Weller, “Hands Across the Bridge” is an opportunity to remember his sister and to give thanks for his own recovery. “I believe people can and do recover,” he said. “I’m an example of that myself.”
Stephen Jones of Bridge 3 said “Hands Across the Bridge” reminds him of how far he’s come in life. Before he was admitted to the hospital three years ago, he said he was on a path of self-destruction. He lost his car, his house and faith in his future.
But now, thanks to staff who believed in him, he received the treatment he needed and is preparing to discharge back into the community.
“It isn’t easy to crawl back up, but I did it, he said. “Now, there is a lot of hope, a lot of possibility. I have friends, and I plan to go back to school.”
For OSH Peer Recovery Specialist Cecilia Fiorillo, seeing everyone come together for the event was a heartwarming experience.
“There are people out there who hear your voice and share your vision,” she said. “It always amazes me to see how much people care.”
|Stepping up ||8/20/2019|
Cinder and Timber, the two service dogs being trained by Oregon State Hospital patients, now have a treadmill! Every day, patients in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program work with the dogs on the treadmill to improve their endurance, agility and balance. To learn more about the training program, check out the article in a past edition of the Recovery Times staff newsletter.
|Interactive theater builds skills||8/12/2019|
There’s nothing Jordan wants more than a dog – a loveable, furry friend who will be her constant companion. So, she gets one – even though her mental health case worker advises against it and her lease agreement forbids pets.
This is the plot of “Shiloh,” a new play in production at Oregon State Hospital. Written and performed by a hospital theater troupe, the play’s purpose is to engage patients, staff and audience members in a creative and educational pursuit.
“The big picture is to teach people about problem solving,” said Ericka Maddock of Flower 1, who plays the role of Jordan. “People learn life skills, and that’s what they really need.”
This type of theater, known as “Theatre of the Oppressed,” was introduced in Brazil in the 1960s. Its concept is to teach the language of theater to marginalized groups and use interactive performance to promote social and political change.
At first, the protagonist – and every other character – makes decisions that lead to chaos. But by involving the audience in the play’s reenactment, the outcome improves – or at least, that’s the hope. The audience is responsible for solving the problems presented in the play.
“We improvise new scenes and try to change things,” said Rick Snook, a peer recovery specialist who oversees the group. “So far, it’s going really well.”
|Drive To Recover||8/5/2019|
Adam Larson can still remember the day he picked up a paint brush for the first time.
He had recently arrived at Oregon State Hospital’s Junction City Campus, and Art Therapist Jerilyn Klingenberg had invited him into her classroom. She guided him to an easel with a blank canvas and encouraged him to paint what inspired him.
Larson copied a pastoral scene from a National Geographic magazine, and he was proud of his work. For the first time in a long time, Larson said he felt good about himself.
“I took off running like Forrest Gump across the country,” said Larson, who has since moved to a group home in Springfield, Ore. “Jerilyn treated me, not as a patient, but as a human being with feelings. She was what kept me real.”
For Klingenberg, working with Larson was a joy. Not only was he open and willing to learn, he had an impressionistic style that immediately captivated her.
“He was so positive, and he had such a drive to heal and recover,” she said. “It didn’t take long to help show him the beauty he had inside of himself. By the time he left, you could feel his strength.”
Larson was a patient at Oregon State Hospital (OSH) for a year and a half, spending most of that time on the Junction City Campus. Since his discharge in 2017, he’s focused on staying sober, being a good role model for his two sons, and pursing his long-term goal of becoming a peer recovery specialist.
None of this would have been possible if he hadn’t received treatment for his mental illness and substance abuse at OSH, he said.
“When I was at the hospital, I was reborn,” he said. “I was given a second chance. Now, I believe in myself, and I know ways to cope with addiction.”
To learn more about Adam Larson and his recovery journey, see the complete article in the Recovery Times staff newsletter.
|Art, music showcased at Summer Fest||7/24/2019|
Live music, a dunk tank and more than 100 pieces of patient-created art were featured during Summer Fest at Oregon State Hospital on July 17. Patients were encouraged to display and perform their own creative projects at the private event on the Salem campus.
The event also highlighted the value of art and music therapy, which enable people to express themselves “when words are not enough,” and is especially helpful for people who have poor self- image, challenges with emotional expression, a history of trauma and difficulty with social relationships. Check out the video to learn more.
|Friends and Family Day a success||6/27/2019|
Junction City welcomed nearly 50 friends and family members on Saturday, June 22, for a barbecue and information resource fair. and their loved ones joined in the festivities, which included music, an art show, a photo booth and a meet and greet with families and OSH leadership.
Participants also enjoyed activities and information tables hosted by a variety of hospital departments and community partner organizations, which included White Bird Clinic, St. Vincent de Paul, and WorkSource Lane. Community partners had the opportunity to tour the hospital before they set up their displays.
While the gymnasium was filled with interesting conversations and decorative art, guests, and staff also gathered outside in the quad to enjoy a barbecue in the sunny, 75-degree weather.
Families were greeted by blooming flowers in the quads and green house as they toured the hospital. Some accompanied their families on the tours, describing what they did in each space and pointing out where certain treatments were provided.
OSH Deputy Director Kerry Kelly said the event offered “a chance for to share their hospital experience with their families, while providing family members a personal look into the support and treatment their loved ones are receiving.”
|Security changes take effect April 1||3/22/2019|
Effective April 1, security staff will screen patients and their belongings when they return to the secure perimeter from an outing. This change is intended to keep the hospital safe for patients, staff and visitors.
Non-staff members who take patients off grounds – also known as “authorized others” – will witness this new process. It will involve security staff moving a metal detector around the patient to help prevent contraband and prohibited items from entering the secure perimeter. Staff will also screen all property and belongings coming in with a patient after an outing.
Please see the Friends and Family flyer
for more information.
|OSH Friends and Family Day celebrates connections||3/21/2019|
Ever since her son was admitted to Oregon State Hospital, Alice Wilson of Jefferson, Ore. couldn’t help but worry.
Is he OK? Who is taking care of him? How is he spending his time?
Through Friends and Family Day on March 16, Wilson’s fears were put to rest.
“Parents need to know where their children are and what they could be doing,” she said about her son, Jason Harris of Bridge 2. “This has helped ease my mind.”
About 20 patients – and 30 of their friends and family members – took part in Friends and Family Day on the Salem Campus. Highlights of the event included tours of the hospital, a shared lunch, and face time with hospital administrators.
Through informational booths, guests also learned more about the treatment and services the hospital provides. Representatives from Peer Recovery Services, Social Work and Consumer and Family Services discussed their roles, and other staff shared information about spiritual care, therapy groups and educational offerings.
Harris, Wilson’s son, said people who haven’t been to a Friends and Family event need to give it a chance. Not only has it helped his mom attach names to faces, it’s reassured her that he’s doing well.
“This has helped her understand what my life is like here,” he said. “I think people should check it out. And if they like it, they should keep coming back.”
This was the hospital’s second Family and Friends event since last fall. The next one is planned for Saturday, Sept. 28.
“The OSH Friends and Family Day is designed to bring patients, staff, family and friends together to celebrate the community at OSH,” said Dolly Matteucci, the hospital’s superintendent.
“The sharing of information, answering of questions, touring of the hospital, and the breaking of bread – in this case, pizza – allows us to better understand our individual and collective experience and to inform opportunities for improvement.”
For David Robles of Bridge 3, the event is a way for him to bring together two of his closest friends, Richard Layton, a Catholic priest from Carlton, Ore.; and Dan Lane, a hazelnut farmer from Dayton, Ore.
“It’s not all about me. It’s about them,” he said. “These two people – my spiritual advisor and my farming partner – are a big part of my life. They’re a good combination for me.”
Layton said he enjoyed Friends and Family Day so much that he plans to return for the next one in September – no matter what.
“Even if you aren’t here, I will come,” Layton told Robles, joking. “I learn something new every time.”
For more information about Friends and Family Day, call Consumer & Family Services at 503-947-8109 or email OSH.ConsumerFamilyServices@state.or.us.
|New patient handbooks are here!||1/30/2019|
From now through mid-February, all Oregon State Hospital patients are receiving new and updated handbooks and program guides.
These guides contain valuable information for newly admitted patients about their hospital stay – including their rights, their responsibilities and their medical treatment.
Broad, high-level information is included in one of three handbooks, which are customized based on a patient’s legal status. Additional, program-specific information is included in each of the hospital’s seven program guides.
Patients are receiving both a handbook and a program guide. They’ll receive a new program guide if they change programs.
Oregon State Hospital’s communication team spent two years creating the materials with input from patients, clinicians, administrators, consumer advocates, peer recovery specialists and other subject-matter experts.
The goals of this project were to create materials that are standard, consistent and easy to understand. The handbooks and program guides use person-centered and recovery-oriented language, and they’re updated regularly – ensuring patients continue to receive current and correct information.
The hospital will update the materials – both online and in print – at least once a year. Staff and patients are also encouraged to share their suggestions for how to improve the handbooks and program guides for future editions.
More information – and copies of all of the handbooks and program guides – can be found here.
|Bird 1 is now open for visitors. ||1/16/2019|
The unit was closed for several days, due to reported cases of gastrointestinal illness.
For more information, call Consumer and Family Services at 503-947-8109 or Reception at 503-945-2800.
|Visitation suspended for Bird 1||1/14/2019|
Visitation is suspended on Bird 1 through part of Tuesday, due to reported cases of gastrointestinal illness.
OSH will continue to reevaluate the suspension of Bird 1 and will post status updates to its website and the Friends and Family Services Facebook page. If no new symptoms occur, the hospital plans to lift restrictions by early Tuesday evening.
OSH is taking measures to prevent the virus from spreading and is taking special care of patients who are ill.
For more information, call Consumer and Family Services at 503-947-8109 or Reception at 503-945-2800.
|Friends and Family Bar-B-Que||8/3/2018|
OSH Salem will be hosting a Friends and Family Bar-B-Que, Town Hall with our new superintendent, and a resource fair on September 8th. Visit our facebook page for more information.
|Drinking Water Advisory||5/30/2018|
The City of Salem has issued a drinking water advisory, which affects Oregon State Hospital’s Salem campus. The hospital is providing bottled water for patients and staff who are at risk of getting sick, as well as for food preparation in its kitchens.
**NOTE: THE DRINKING WATER ADVISORY WAS LIFTED ON SATURDAY, JUNE 2, 2018**
|Meet the therapy dogs of Oregon State Hospital ||5/3/2018|
Animal-Assisted Therapy program inspires hope among patients at OSH. Click here to learn how these four-legged canines are trained to hep therapists in the work they do everyday.
|Peer Recovery Services wins 2018 Oregon Advocacy Award||3/9/2018|
Oregon State Hospital's Peer Recovery Services Department received the 2018 Oregon Advocacy Award March 2 in Portland.
The Mental Health Association of Portland gives the award to an individual or group who advocates for peopel with mental illness and addiction.
Read the full story on Oregon State Hospital's website.
|Dolly Matteucci to become new OSH superintendent ||2/2/2018|
Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen announced the hiring of Dolores "Dolly" Matteucci as superintendent of Oregon State Hospital.
Matteucci steps into her new role leading the hospital in mid-March.
For more information on the new superintendent, see the full story on the Oregon State Hospital's website.
|OSH celebrates successful survey from The Joint Commission ||2/1/2018|
After years of planning and preparation, Oregon State Hospital passed The Joint Commission’s survey with flying colors – despite increased survey scrutiny.
“I cannot express how proud I am of the Oregon State Hospital team,” said Interim Administrator John Swanson. “This survey went better than anyone could have imagined, and it’s all due to the incredible and dedicated staff we have here.”
One surveyor said OSH’s ligature mitigation plan does “a better job reducing ligature risk than any psychiatric hospital I have surveyed,” and another stated OSH is among the “top 5 percent of hospitals in the nation for environment of care and life-safety issues.” Surveyors added, “This is a report to celebrate; this is a testament to the culture here.”
For more information on the survey, please see the full story on Oregon State Hospital's website.