Editor’s note: This is the final report in the KOIN 6 news series “Breaking the Cycle: Oregon’s Attempt to Recovery.”
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Dan Garris shared: Trials and tribulations faced by daughter Alexa with state leaders in Salem.
“We have a 32-year-old daughter who has struggled for many years with the weight of the ups and downs of mental illness,” Garis said. “She lives in a world of delusions. Often she has some form of severe schizophrenia and in some cases psychosis.”
Alexa repeatedly cycled through the mental health and criminal justice systems during her harrowing battle with addiction and severe mental illness.
Garris is a passionate advocate for her adult daughter and others who, like her, need lifelong care.
“There’s no excuse to put someone back on the street when they need the highest level of care,” he says. “I wonder why it is so difficult to achieve safety, security and dignity for severely mentally ill people in civil society.”
Oregon lawmakers sympathize with Dan Garris.
State Rep. Kevin Mannix, who serves the cities of Keizer and North Salem, is serving on the new Addictions and Community Safety Committee. Lawmakers recently established the bicameral, bipartisan commission, which has already met in October and November. They also meet in December and January, something they don’t normally do.
But Mannix and his fellow senators are gathering ideas on what to do next. We aim to address these issues and pass new legislation. In a short legislative session scheduled for February.
“Dan’s story is heartbreaking. It just reflects the systemic failures of our country,” Mannix said.
He’s already set his sights on the Dome Building across the street from Oregon State Hospital.
“This building has everything you need in terms of heat, lighting and plumbing,” Mannix told KOIN 6 News.
Mannix said the 67,000-square-foot site, which is state-owned vacant land, can care for 400 mentally ill people.
“My message to the governor and my fellow legislators is to convene an emergency committee. Allocate to the emergency committee the funds necessary to reopen the Dome Building as a state hospital facility and provide emergency staffing. “I’ll give it to you,” he said. “It may not be full. It may be partially occupied to address the mental health and criminal justice crisis we are currently facing.”
Mannix claims the state first needs to spend $10 million and months to make the Dome Building earthquake-proof.
“Instead of saying we’re giving it up, let’s use the here and now and worry about earthquake planning for the future, not now, because what we have is what the community needs today.”
Anyway, Mannix said he has the money.
“Over the last two years, we have $471 million in additional revenue that has not been budgeted or spent,” he said. “The additional funds coming in will go toward solving these problems.” Ta.
Others, like Rep. Rob Nosse, see a long road ahead.
Nosse represents parts of the Southeast and Northeast Portland. Like Mannix, he is also a member of the new Addictions and Community Safety Committee and also chairs the Behavioral Health Committee.
He said the $1.3 billion in advance legislative investment will add 1,000 more beds for mentally ill and addicted patients in communities across the state by July 2025. She said he “absolutely” felt the need for long-term long-term care. The proportion of people who do not have the ability to live independently is small.
“There’s no question,” Nosse told KOIN 6 News. “And I think there are a lot of colleagues out there who want to support this kind of effort. We understand what it is that we need to stand up for. What does that look like? So , to be honest, how are we going to pay for that?”
He said having adequate staffing at the facility remains a major challenge. However, the importance of quality staff cannot be overstated. It is extremely important to prevent a recurrence of the disturbing conditions seen in psychiatric hospitals in the past.
For Nosse, dignified spaces mean “more housing dedicated to people struggling with mental illness and disability, in nearby communities, staffed by professionals, and paying professionals the wages they deserve.” Not only can I have a job and be happy with it, but I also don’t live on the brink of poverty. ”
“And what I want to say to those fathers and daughters is that there are members of Congress who are trying to solve this problem,” he added.
For example, Governor Tina Kotek established the Portland Central City Task Force to develop recommendations to address the city’s challenges. This recommendation will be fully published on his December 11th.
Some ideas include a recommendation to immediately add about 250 more residential treatment facilities and psychiatric beds. Something similar to what I explained in part 3 of this series.
The governor has also been an active advocate of enacting new laws. Criminalize the public use of hard drugs She would like to cover it in the next session. She and her fellow lawmakers want to make people uncomfortable about selling fentanyl openly.
Fathers like Dan Garris are waiting.
“I think of all the other parents of daughters who have been hurting, hurting, emotionally scarring, grieving and fighting,” Garis said. “They are just as corrupt as we are. They are standing up and making their case. And I want to say to all of them, you are not alone.”
Garis is waiting for the day when Oregon understands what true compassion means, moving beyond dark facilities and tanks for the mentally ill and abandoning them on the streets. In its place, there will be a dignified, safe space that offers outstanding individuals the chance to live a purposeful life.
Ward 81 in 1976
Photo: Mary Ellen Mark | Text: Karen Folger Jacobs | Issuer steidel
Images in the book 81st wardcaptures the inhumane conditions in a secure facility for women at an Oregon psychiatric hospital in 1976. This was the only locked ward for women in the state. Individuals in this district have been deemed by a judge to be a danger to themselves or others. Mary Ellen Mark and Karen Jacobs were immersed in the facility for just over a month, living in solitary confinement cells near an adjacent vacant ward.
During their days there, they documented the lives of their patients and developed personal connections. Through a series of photographs and conversations, they reveal a disturbing reality inside a psychiatric hospital, depicting electroshock therapy sessions and the harsh isolation experienced by residents.
This chronicle details the women’s turmoil, hardships, and delusions, offering a glimpse into the nature of their mental illnesses without fully revealing their diagnoses. But what became clear was that even in this chaotic state of mind, the women all had a strong desire to share love, conversation, and connection with others.
While writing this, Mr. Jacobs explained that the Carter administration discharged these people from hospitals for the purpose of implementing community support and mental health services. Unfortunately, due to lack of funds, this plan did not materialize.
As a result, these people were released without proper care or support. She then went looking for survivors and learned that one of the young women living in her ward (pictured on the cover) was homeless and had just gotten into trouble for begging in southern Oregon at the time.
“This is what happens to these people. They don’t survive,” Jacobs said.
Check out the first five stories in this series below.
Part 1: Relapse vs. Recovery: The Reality of Oregon’s New Street Drugs
Part 2: Oregon kidnapping attempt unites two fathers and exposes untreated mental illness
Part 3: Watch: Groundbreaking Oregon Study Reveals Path to Addiction Recovery
Part 4: Despite controversy, 911 measures ‘meet a huge need’ for addicts
Part 5: Does Measure 110 require a “combination of enforcement”?