• Empire_Block_-_Pendleton,_Oregon
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    Pendleton Lawmakers Try To Keep Blue Mountain Hospital Open

     by Christopher David Gray

    Sept. 18, 2013 — The Oregon Health Authority has laid out the timetable to legislators for the closure of the Blue Mountain Recovery Center, even as Pendleton lawmakers strive to keep Eastern Oregon’s mental hospital open.

    “The train’s already left the station,” Rep. Bob Jenson, R-Pendleton, told The Lund Report. “We got to find the sidetrack somehow.”

    Blue Mountain is set to stop taking patients next month and close for good Dec. 31. The hospital has a long track record, opening in 1948.

    Pamela Martin, the director of the Addictions and Mental Health Division, said half of Blue Mountain’s 60 patients will be ready for discharge, but any civilly committed patients who need further treatment will be transferred to two mothballed 26-bed wings in the new Oregon State Hospital in Salem.

    Those hospital wings are scheduled to open in November, with patients transferred over the following month. They were built the same time as the new hospital but have sat empty for lack of funding in the previous budget.

    After Blue Mountain stops taking patients, new civilly committed patients will be sent to either Salem or the Oregon State Hospital in Portland, but there is already a waiting list to get into state psychiatric hospitals. The Legislature has budgeted money for a new hospital in Junction City, near Eugene, but it won’t open until 2015 at the earliest.

    At Wednesday’s meeting of the full Joint Committee on Ways & Means, lawmakers accepted Martin’s report, but talk stirred of potentially keeping the hospital open and staffed until next spring so it could be turned into a geriatric hospital for the Department of Corrections.

    The prison hospital idea was pitched by Rep. Jennifer Williamson, D-Portland, who said it would be wise to keep the facility in place with its skilled workforce because the Department of Corrections needs to increase hospital capacity with an aging population, driven by mandatory prison sentences.

    Her idea was immediately grasped by Jenson and his Pendleton Senate counterpart, Sen. Bill Hansell, as well as Sen. Jackie Winters, R-Salem:

    “It’s a piece of the puzzle that needs to be worked on to come to fruition,” Winters said.

    If the hospital closes, Jenson and Hansell are concerned that the professional staff, particularly the nurses, would be cut to the wind and leave Eastern Oregon. Recruiting newcomers to move to Pendleton could be difficult with the state suffering a nursing shortage. Jenson reminded his colleagues that even the Oregon State Hospital in Salem has had trouble filling all its positions with qualified applicants. “If we lose the workforce, we’re going to have to restart,” said Hansell, who also learned that most workers would prefer to remain in Pendleton, according to the Service Employees International Union.

    In place of Blue Mountain Hospital, three new residential mental health facilities, each with five beds, are being built in Pendleton. One will serve as an acute crisis unit while the other two will act as transitional residential treatment homes, one for adolescents and the other for adults.

    “Every effort will be made to place people from Eastern Oregon in those two facilities,” Martin told legislators.

    Some Blue Mountain employees will find work in the new units, but with only 15 beds and less intensive care, the new residential treatment units will only employ a fraction of the people if the hospital closes. Others could find work in Salem. And some of the staff has already left voluntarily, requiring the state to hire temporary employees.

    “One of the major barriers is the physical quality of the [Pendleton] hospital,” said Martin, who toured the 65-year-old facility after assuming her leadership position in May. “It’s outlived its natural life span.”

    Martin said that it costs about $1 million a month to operate Blue Mountain, but the two new mothballed units in Salem will cost only $700,000 a month to run, she added, comparing them to empty floors of a hotel.

    If Blue Mountain Hospital were renovated, it would cost an estimated $11 million, and it’s uncertain if the hospital has significant asbestos insulation or lead pipes, which would increase costs exponentially.

    Jenson rebuffed the asbestos concern, noting that most of the facilities have undergone substantial renovations in the past 25 years. “If there’s a lot of asbestos in the building for these patients, maybe we have a good class-action lawsuit waiting for us,” Jenson quipped. Before it was razed, the state had been fined by the federal government previously for asbestos in the old Salem state mental hospital.

    Martin expects to report back to legislators with detailed information about the impacts of the closure on Pendleton, as well as the potential for its reuse as a prison hospital. But that could be too late to delay closure of Blue Mountain Hospital. Lawmakers may not be back in Salem until nearly Thanksgiving, just weeks before the last patients are moved across the Cascades.

    Source: The Lund Report

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    Nine Legislators Named 2013 Health Center Heroes by OPCA

    Portland, Ore., Aug. 6, 2013 – The Oregon Primary Care Association (OPCA) is honoring nine policymakers for their outstanding support of community health centers.

     OPCA will award its second annual Health Center Hero Awards to:

    • Five Portland-area legislators:
      • Oregon Senators Laurie Monnes Anderson and Elizabeth Steiner Hayward
      • Oregon Representatives Mitch Greenlick, Alissa Keny-Guyer & Jennifer Williamson
    • Oregon Representatives Peter Buckley, Nancy Nathanson, Val Hoyle & Jim Thompson

     Awards presentations planned to date:

    • Sen. Steiner Hayward and Rep. Greenlick – August 7 from 10 – 11 a.m. atCentral City Concern’s Old Town Recovery Center/Old Town Clinic, 33 NW Broadway, 3rd floor, Portland
    • Sen. Monnes Anderson – August 22 at 9 a.m. at Wallace Medical Concern, 124 NE 181st Ave., Portland
    • Rep. Keny-Guyer – October 1 from 10 – 11 a.m. at Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic’s Rosewood Family Health Center, 8935 S.E. Powell Blvd., Portland

     The remaining awards will be presented at times to be determined over the next two months.

     OPCA is recognizing Sen. Steiner Hayward for her long commitment to primary care.  She focuses on improving access to care for all Oregonians, particularly the uninsured.  Rep. Greenlick provided exceptional oversight of Oregon’s health care transformation process during the 2013 legislative session and remains a champion of the work of community health centers.

     Sen. Monnes Anderson supported key health care legislation during the 2013 session, including the OPCA-sponsored “care continuity” bill, HB 2132.  Reps. Keny-Guyer, Buckley and Thompson earned awards for strongly advocating access to culturally competent care.

     OPCA is recognizing Rep. Williamson for her focus on access to health care for all Oregonians, with an emphasis on Portland’s homeless population. Rep. Nathanson promoted accountability and transparency in health care reform, and Rep. Hoyle showed exceptional leadership in raising the profile of health care and health policy in her caucus.

    About OPCA:

    The Oregon Primary Care Association is a nonprofit membership organization of 31 community health centers operating through more than 200 sites across the state.  OPCA advocates on behalf of health centers at the state and federal levels and provides technical assistance and training to its members.  Our mission is to lead the transformation of primary care to achieve health equity for all.  For more information, see http://www.orpca.org.

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    OPCA is recognizing Rep. Williamson for her focus on access to health care for all Oregonians, with an emphasis on Portland’s homeless population.

    Nine Legislators Named 2013 Health Center Heroes by OPCA

    By: Oregon Primary Care Association (503) 228-8852, x222

     Nine Legislators Named 2013 Health Center Heroes by OPCA

     Portland, Ore., Aug. 6, 2013 – The Oregon Primary Care Association (OPCA) is honoring nine policymakers for their outstanding support of community health centers.

    OPCA will award its second annual Health Center Hero Awards to:

    • Five Portland-area legislators:
      • Oregon Senators Laurie Monnes Anderson and Elizabeth Steiner Hayward
      • Oregon Representatives Mitch Greenlick, Alissa Keny-Guyer & Jennifer Williamson
    • Oregon Representatives Peter Buckley, Nancy Nathanson, Val Hoyle & Jim Thompson

    Awards presentations planned to date:

    • Sen. Steiner Hayward and Rep. Greenlick – August 7 from 10 – 11 a.m. atCentral City Concern’s Old Town Recovery Center/Old Town Clinic, 33 NW Broadway, 3rd floor, Portland
    • Sen. Monnes Anderson – August 22 at 9 a.m. at Wallace Medical Concern, 124 NE 181st Ave., Portland
    • Rep. Keny-Guyer – October 1 from 10 – 11 a.m. at Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic’s Rosewood Family Health Center, 8935 S.E. Powell Blvd., Portland

    The remaining awards will be presented at times to be determined over the next two months.

    OPCA is recognizing Sen. Steiner Hayward for her long commitment to primary care.  She focuses on improving access to care for all Oregonians, particularly the uninsured.  Rep. Greenlick provided exceptional oversight of Oregon’s health care transformation process during the 2013 legislative session and remains a champion of the work of community health centers.

    Sen. Monnes Anderson supported key health care legislation during the 2013 session, including the OPCA-sponsored “care continuity” bill, HB 2132.  Reps. Keny-Guyer, Buckley and Thompson earned awards for strongly advocating access to culturally competent care.

    OPCA is recognizing Rep. Williamson for her focus on access to health care for all Oregonians, with an emphasis on Portland’s homeless population. Rep. Nathanson promoted accountability and transparency in health care reform, and Rep. Hoyle showed exceptional leadership in raising the profile of health care and health policy in her caucus.

    About OPCA:

    The Oregon Primary Care Association is a nonprofit membership organization of 31 community health centers operating through more than 200 sites across the state.  OPCA advocates on behalf of health centers at the state and federal levels and provides technical assistance and training to its members.  Our mission is to lead the transformation of primary care to achieve health equity for all.  For more information, see http://www.orpca.org.

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    Williamson called ‘Freshman of the Year’ in Willamette Week Legislator Ratings

    Williamson, 39, a smiley first-termer, has ably replaced Mary Nolan, who resigned her seat for an unsuccessful run for Portland City Council. A former First Amendment lawyer, Williamson spent a couple of sessions in Salem lobbying before running for office. That familiarity with the capitol is worth a lot in a culture proud of its traditions. As a rookie, Williamson chaired theJoint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Public Safety. “You’ve usually got to be here for 10 years to get that kind of assignment,” says an observer. “Freshman of the year,” says one of many admirers.

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    Townhall Meeting With Senator Burdick on September 9

    Portland Legislators Announce September 9th Town Hall
    PORTLAND – Senator Ginny Burdick (D – NW/SW Portland/Tigard) and Representative Jennifer Williamson (D – NW/SW Portland), will hold a Town Hall meeting on Monday, September 9th at Portland Central Library. Community members will have an opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns with the legislators, and to discuss the recent legislative session. Who: Senator Ginny Burdick and Representative Jennifer Williamson What: Town Hall on recently adjourned legislative session When: Monday, September 9th, 6:00 to 7:30pm Where: Central Library, 801 SW 10th Ave, Portland

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    Oregon voters could get say on adding Equal Rights Amendment to state constitution

    SALEM — The Oregon Legislature may give voters the chance to amend the Oregon Constitution to include an Equal Rights Amendment for women.

    House Joint Resolution 35 would refer the issue to voters on the May 2014 ballot. It’s scheduled for a hearing Wednesday in the House Rules Committee. Proponents say it would solidify protections against gender discrimination.

    “When you have your rights expressed in the Constitution, they’re as secure as they can be,” said Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo, the president of VoteERA.org, which requested the legislation.

    Others say the amendment isn’t necessary and that elevating gender equality into the Oregon Constitution might make it appear more important than banning discrimination based on race, sexual orientation and other categories.

    A state Supreme Court ruling already ensures strong gender equality protections, said David Fidanque, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon. A national Equal Rights Amendment is needed because the federal government treats sex discrimination differently than racial and other forms of discrimination, he said, but that’s not the case under state law.

    The ACLU is remaining neutral on the state resolution after opposing two similar proposals introduced earlier this session. Fidanque said he’s not sure the state amendment would do anything new.

    “We have argued that it’s not necessary from the standpoint of the law and the constitution,” he said. “It will provide insurance in case the Oregon Supreme Court ever changes its interpretation” of the constitution.

    The state Constitution has not been amended since its passage in the 1850s to expressly protect the equality of the sexes, argues Littrell DiLorenzo.

    It’s the same state Constitution that “wouldn’t let women vote. Women couldn’t own property, and women couldn’t work the same number of hours (as men),” she said. “What we’re trying to do is to secure equality between the sexes, established in the Constitution.”

    July 6 2013

    Representative Jennifer Williamson,2013.

    The campaign to pass a state amendment coincides with a revived national campaign to pass a federal Equal Rights Amendment. That amendment, approved by Congress in 1972, never went into effect because it fell three states short of the minimum 38 states that needed to ratify it.

    In Oregon, similar legislation introduced earlier this session attracted broad support from Democrats and Republicans.

    “The Oregon Constitution is very protective of individual rights, much more than the federal constitution,” said Rep. Jennifer Williamson, D-Portland, who has a Ms. Poster advocating for women’s rights on her office wall. Williamson supports an Oregon amendment, which she said would be “a safeguard to ensure that Oregon’s higher standard of protection continues.”

    Rep. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn, said an Oregon Equal Rights Amendment is important in light of ongoing equity issues, such as the wage gap for women.

    “There are folks who say we’re already there, but we’re not there,” said Parrish, who sponsored a similar resolution earlier this session. “As a mom, I’ve got three boys, and what I’ve said before is that I want my boys to grow up and understand that women can do anything, and the little girl they sit next to in class could be their wife, their friend, their boss. It’s important to memorialize that.”

    By Yuxing Zheng, The Oregonian

    June 11, 2013 at  7:10 PM,

    updated June 11, 2013 at 11:06 PM

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    Oregon House votes to ease burden on hair and makeup artists

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    Oregon Governor signs bill for overdose prevention programs

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    Committee assignments in Oregon Legislature don’t rock the boat

    By Christian Gaston, The Oregonian on December 21, 2012 at 5:45 PM, updated December 21, 2012 at 6:00 PM

     

    Rep. Tina Kotek, D-Portland, incoming house speaker, announced committee appointments for the 2013 Legislative Session. Faith Cathcart/The Oregonian

    Leadership in the Oregon Legislature announced committee appointments in the House and Senate late Friday, with few surprises in either chamber.

    While Democrats will be in a majority in both chambers, a shift from after the 2010 election when the House was tied 30-30, Democratic leadership retained Republicans on influential Ways and Means, Revenue and Rules committees.

    Rep. Tina Kotek, D-Portland, incoming House speaker, said at the end of last week’s special session that she was looking forward to bipartisanship in the coming session, during which Democrats will enjoy a 34-26 majority.

    There are Democratic majorities on all committees in the House, but Republicans still hold some prominent positions.

    Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, will co-chair the Ways and Means subcommittee on General Government and Rep. Bob Jenson, R-Pendleton, will co-chair the subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development.

    In a press release announcing the committee appointments, Kotek offered a similar sentiment.

    “There are thoughtful, well-respected legislators on both sides of the aisle who have important ideas to offer,” Kotek said. “Committees are designed in a way that will allow us to best tackle the challenges facing the state.”

    While there are a score of freshman legislators in the House and a leadership shift, the makeup of the Senate hasn’t changed much. Senate President Peter Courtney made small tweaks to committee appointments.

    Other highlights from the appointments include:

    • Sen. Bruce Starr, R-Hillsboro, will replace outgoing Sen. Jason Atkinson, R-Central Point, on the senate Rules Committee.
    • Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-Portland, and Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, were appointed to Ways and Means. Steiner Hayward was appointed to fill the vacant senate seat of U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici late last year. Hansell was elected to the Senate in November.
    • Freshman Rep. Jennifer Williamson, D-Portland, will serve on Ways and Means.
    • Freshman Rep. Ben Unger, D-Hillsboro, will co-chair the Natural Resources subcommittee of Ways and Means.
    • The makeup of the Senate Finance and Revenue committee changed significantly following the retirement of Sen. Frank Morse, R-Corvallis, who had worked closely with committee chairwoman Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, on tax issues. Three new members will join the committee this session: Diane Rosenbaum, D-Portland, Brian Boquist, R-Dallas and Larry George, R-Sherwood.

    The Legislature will convene Jan. 14-16 for organizational meetings, with lawmakers returning to Salem Feb. 4, when the legislative session really gets under way.

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