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Construction of new state hospital on schedule

Jan 28, 2014


By SAUL HUBBARD
Of the The Register-Guard

JUNCTION CITY — Construction has moved indoors at the state's new psychiatric hospital in Junction City, after the facility's precast walls and roofs went up late last year.

The focus is now on the 211,000-square-foot facility's infrastructure: In coming weeks and months, 170 trade workers will complete all its electrical, plumbing, heating, air conditioning and ventilation services and install its windows and drywall.

“We're fully enclosed now, protected from the elements,” said Jodie Jones, administrator for the Oregon State Hospital replacement project.

The facility remains on schedule to be finished by Dec. 31, Jones said. It should open a few months after that in March or April 2015.

Initially, the facility will open 125 beds of its total 174-bed capacity. The remaining beds being opened depends on state lawmakers approving additional funding to operate the hospital at full capacity in the two-year budget period that begins in July 2015, according to Oregon State Hospital spokeswoman Rebeka Gipson-King.

If fully opened, staffing costs for the new Junction City facility are expected to be around $15 million higher annually than the combined costs of the two state psychiatric facilities, in Portland and Pendleton, that it is replacing. State officials say that's because a fully staffed Junction City hospital will add a net 22 psychiatric beds to the state system and because the Portland and Pendleton facilities have been severely understaffed in recent years.

The Junction City hospital has already hired 126 employees, some of whom are currently in training at the much larger Salem state hospital, Gipson-King said. Another 240 employees — including clinical psychologists, psychiatric social workers, occupational therapists, nurses, and office and food service workers — will be hired this year. A final batch of 75 employees would be hired if the facility goes to full capacity.

The total construction cost for the hospital is approximately $130 million — including the cost of infrastructure work initially conducted for an adjacent state prison that has since been nixed. After a lengthy back-and-forth over several legislative sessions, state lawmakers last July approved the final $80 million in construction bonds to finish the hospital project.

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

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