State Officials to Release New Forecast on Junction City Hospital

That forecast, which will be released in mid-December, is expected to show whether there’s a need for another state mental hospital
November 30, 2010 --As criticism mounts over building another mental hospital in Junction City, Richard Harris, assistant director of the state’s Addictions and Mental Health Division, is preparing a re-forecasting report that’s expected to reveal whether such a facility is still needed.
By mid-December, Harris anticipates submitting a report to legislators that looks at the demand for hospital beds between now and 2030, including forensic and civil commitment beds, as well as people who require hospitalization because of a co-morbid condition. The report will also include estimates to operate Junction City during the 2013-15 biennium.  
The last time such a report was prepared, in 2005 known as the master plan, led to the conclusion that there was a need for another state hospital. Now, unless legislators halt the project, Junction City is scheduled to open in 2013.
“We hope to introduce some truth into the process,” Harris said. “There’s been a lot of wild speculation about the numbers and the need from all over the place. Lots of people believe different things about Junction City. The best thing is to produce a set of numbers that can estimate the need going into the future. If we don’t build now, there won’t be a great opportunity again. But we shouldn’t build if there’s not the need. Right now, I’m concerned about getting the best numbers we can.”
When legislators met in February, they asked Harris to produce such a report. “At the time we did the master plan, we believed there was a need for those beds,” he said. “Knowing that, we need to look at the fundamental assumptions that went into that plan and redo the forecast. That’s what we’re in the process of doing now.”
Given the controversy and the state’s looming budget crisis, Janet Carlson, a Marion County Commission, has brought together a task force, which is expected to make a recommendation on Junction City when it meets December 14. Organized by the Association of Oregon Counties, that 25-member task force includes representatives from law enforcement, providers, disability advocates, legislators and union leaders, with Lisa Naito as consultant.
“My goal was to start the conversation so we can agree on the substantive issues, and look at what will happen if we build the facility and don’t have the funds to operate it,” Carlson said. “If we can have those discussions now and reach consensus, it’s far better than walking into a hearing room and having those arguments.”
While discussions ensue, Jane Ellen Weidanz, adult mental health services unit manager, is engrossed with the Aim High Project to transition adults from the state hospital and licensed care settings into lower levels of care. The Medicaid mental health organizations (MHOs) charged with that responsibility, are expected to move 331 adults into more independent living settings by next June, and they have already transitioned 116 people.
“They’ll definitely meet their performance targets for this biennium,” she said. “Now I’m challenging the MHOs to blow those numbers out of the water; it’s a friendly challenge’ we’re all in this together.”
Although the purpose of Aim High is to get the right care for people in the community and help them become independent, this only represents the first phase of the project. Eventually, the MHOs will take on more contractual and financial obligations, paying providers directly rather than those funds coming from the division’s budget. 
Weidanz also commended the MHOs for their success with the children’s initiative where they not only reduced the length of stay, but the number of children in high intensity services and increased the number of children in community settings. 

For more information

To learn more about the task force led by Marion County Commissioner Janet Carlson, click here.
To learn more about the state Addiction and Mental Health Division, click here.

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Aim High is actually AMHI (Adult Mental Health Initiative), modeled as you say on Governor Kulongoski's CSCI (Children Systems Change Initiative).