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A federal judge has ruled that Oregon State Hospital must place strict limits on the length of treatment for patients charged with crimes who need mental health treatment.
Judge Michael W. Mosman’s decision aims to reduce overcrowding at the psychiatric hospital, speed up patient admissions and prevent those awaiting admission from languishing in jail, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Monday.
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Effective immediately, the hospital must release “helping and assisting” patients charged with misdemeanors within 90 days of admission, and those charged with felonies within six months of admission. Helpers and assistants are patients found by a judge unable to participate in their own defense at trial.
The judge’s decision overturns an Oregon law that says the hospital can detain a care and support patient for up to three years, or the maximum time a person could have been sentenced to a prison term. jail for his alleged crime, whichever is shorter.
Disability Rights Oregon and Metropolitan Public Defenders sought the order after protesting long delays in hospital admissions. Disability Rights Oregon in 2002 won a court order that required the hospital to admit caregivers and assistants within seven days so they could begin mental health treatment quickly.
The hospital struggled to meet that deadline, and the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the problem.
Emily Cooper, legal director of Disability Rights Oregon, said she was “relieved” by Mosman’s decision.
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“It’s a very promising first step,” Cooper said.
The hospital said around 100 people are expected to be discharged immediately under the new schedule. They will be transferred to treatment centers in their home counties over the next six months, according to state hospital spokeswoman Amber Shoebridge.
The request to strictly limit treatment times was based on a court-ordered review of the state hospital’s admissions policies conducted this year by Michigan mental health expert Dr. Debra Pinals.
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Pinals’ report suggested the hospital gradually reduce its wait times for patients, aiming for an average of 22 days or less by early August; 11 days in January; and be back in compliance with the Federal Court Order of 2000, on average 7 days or less, by mid-February.
The hospital was not on track to meet this goal, prompting Disability Rights Oregon to seek new admission guidelines.
Cooper, the attorney for Disability Rights Oregon, said the lack of community mental health beds remains a problem, but a recent increase in state funding for mental health services should help welcome patients back to their county. of origin.