- Associated Press - Monday, December 8, 2014

JUNCTION CITY, Ore. (AP) - A new state psychiatric hospital in the Willamette Valley is expected to begin receiving patients in March.

The $84 million construction project is nearing completion at Junction City, northwest of Eugene, the Eugene Register-Guard (https://bit.ly/1G77sh1) reported.

It’s another piece of a state effort to improve treatment of people with mental illness.

Oregon has long had a poor reputation for mental health care, symbolized by the filming of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” at the state hospital in Salem and the discovery of the cremated remains of 3,500 unnamed “forgotten souls” that spurred reforms.

The Salem hospital has been rebuilt, with 600 beds and improved programs. A smaller, century-old mental facility at Pendleton in Eastern Oregon has been closed.

The new hospital is in Junction City, a city of about 5,500 in north Lane County where officials hope it will bring an influx of middle-class workers and wages.

It’s about 220,000 square feet and will have patients from southern and central Oregon.

It will house 75 by early summer, with room for about 100 more. Those spots will be filled as needed, Oregon Health Authority spokeswoman Rebeka Gipson-King said.

The hospital eventually could employ more than 400 people. It has filled 180 positions and needs 150 more employees by March.

“We still need a little of everything - nursing, clinicians, food services, security, office support, custodians, grounds and maintenance and more,” Gipson-King said.

In the early 2000s, state officials talked about having a new state prison on the site, but inmate populations have declined over the last decade. The project is on hold indefinitely.

State hospital officials will be in Junction City on Friday to meet with applicants who have applied for jobs online.

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Information from: The Register-Guard, https://www.registerguard.com


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