Published: Sunday, August 26, 2012, 6:00 AM
I read with interest The Oregonian’s Aug. 5 article about Morningside Hospital. The article focused primarily on the deaths and inadequate care of the “inmates.”
The researchers said they’d never heard of the hospital before, so they obviously had no firsthand knowledge of its standards and practices.
I worked as a psychiatrist at Morningside from 1962 to 1966. I was not aware at any time while there of patient abuse or foul play. I compare the care given to patients there as better than most state hospitals of the time and even now, and I have known several first-hand. Patients were treated with respect and kept as active as possible. Those capable were expected to work, a practice widely used in institutions of the time, and a good idea at that.
Commitment in the early days followed now-outdated state laws. However, I did not see many who did not have a good reason to be there. Return of “inmates” to Alaska was held up primarily because authorities did not want them returned. It was common practice in those days to “institutionalize” patients, to keep them away from general society. Thus, the hospitals were really asylums for the mentally handicapped. Read More