Fairview Hospital and Training Center

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Fairview Hospital and Training Center
Established 1907
Construction Began 1908
Opened 1908
Closed 2000
Current Status Demolished
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Salem, OR
Peak Patient Population 2,600 in 1962
Alternate Names
  • Oregon Fairview Home


Fairview was established by the legislature in 1907 as the State Institution for the Feeble-Minded. The institution was created as a "quasi-educational institution" charged with educating the "feeble-minded" and caring for the "idiotic and epileptic." A Board of Trustees consisting of the Governor, Secretary of State, and State Treasurer was created to oversee the institution. The actual management of the institution was the job of the superintendent. The legislature appropriated $10,000 for operating expenses and $100,000 for lands and buildings. The institution was situated on a 670 acre plot southwest of Salem and construction had proceeded to the point that the first residents were transferred from the Oregon State Hospital in December, 1908.

The first residents were admitted to a compound consisting of an administration building, a dormitory building, a laundry and a boiler house. During the next two years, two more cottages were constructed with beds and accommodations for 60 persons each.

The Board of Trustees was replaced by the Board of Control in 1913. The Board of Control was created to provide centralized administration of state institutions. In new enabling legislation, the institution was charged with "the care and training of such feeble-minded, idiotic, epileptic, and defective persons as have been or may hereafter be committed to its custody." Many of the early admissions were epileptic; few were severely physically handicapped. Consequently, emphasis was placed on training for practical work.

A commitment law was passed in 1917 to standardize admissions and to insure that valuable space was used for the "feeble-minded" and not the "insane." It also stated that no one under 5 years of age was to be admitted. This age limitation was removed four years later.

Farming and husbandry were important parts of Fairview, providing both food and training for the residents. Most of the farm land had been cleared by 1920, 400 acres were used for crops and 45 acres used for orchards. Livestock consisted of hogs, chickens, and both dairy and beef cattle.

In 1923, the Board of Eugenics was formed, with the institution superintendent serving as an ex-officio board member. The organizing legislation provided for the "sterilization of all feeble-minded, insane, epileptics, habitual criminals, moral degenerates, and sexual perverts who are a menace to society." Sterilizations required either the person's consent or a judicial proceeding resulting in a court order. By 1929, 300 residents had been sterilized.

The connection between parole and sterilization was not explicit, but two-thirds of the residents that were sterilized were paroled, freeing up valuable bed space in the institution.

The Depression and World War II combined to limit program expansion and capital improvement. In 1940 employees were moved to housing separate from buildings used by the patients. By the end of the 1946 biennium, conditions were improving, more staff were available due to the conclusion of the war and the passage of the State Civil Service and Retirement Acts. A tuberculosis control program was also instituted at this time. In 1948, the first dormitory built in 16 years still left the Institution overcrowded as a result of the lack of construction. The farm showed an increase in production over the previous decades. In 1957, a new administration building and the gymnasium-auditorium, first requested in 1913, were built.

Following World War II, Fairview's resident profile began to change. Medical care techniques improved nationally, greatly increasing the life expectancy of severely handicapped patients. The number of residents with severe emotional/social handicaps also increased. These two factors contributed to a steady decrease in the median mental age of the institutional population and changed Fairview's emphasis from education to care. The 1953 biennial report stated that: "We [Fairview] are no longer used as a school for those who have only educational difficulty, as this is being taken care of in the public school system."

Fairview began providing out-patient services to mentally ill persons not in its custody in 1954. Organizational changes in the late fifties brought new duties to Fairview. Departments of Psychology, Social Service, and Recreation were added to the staff. Diagnostic clinics and parents' conferences were provided as community services. Medical services and dietary standards were brought into conformance with U.S. Department of Agriculture requirements.

The decline in the incidence of tuberculosis made it impractical to maintain a separate ward, and the few tubercular patients at Fairview were transferred to the tuberculosis ward at the Oregon State Hospital.

Research funds in the amount of $14,000,000 were provided by the 1957 Legislature. This funding was dedicated to research in the treatment and training of mentally retarded persons. Fairview staff viewed this funding and the subsequent research as instrumental in providing high levels of service to retarded Oregonians.

In 1961, the institution reorganized into two broad units, business services and medical (patient) services. Fairview also began using the "Unit System," interdisciplinary teams, consisting of a physician, chairman, psychologist, social worker, and nursing supervisor, to serve residents' needs. Several new services were added at the same time. Visiting and consulting physicians were added to the medical staff and the patient record-keeping system was established by the newly-appointed medical records librarian. Chaplains were hired to meet the spiritual needs of the residents. A research laboratory was established. Approximately 250 patients were transferred from Fairview to Columbia Park Training Center in The Dalles between June and October 1963.

Oregon Fairview Home was renamed Fairview Hospital and Training Center in 1965. Epileptics were no longer cared for at Fairview and were either released to community care or transferred to the State Hospital.

Several new programs were initiated during the late sixties. The Physical Rehabilitation Center opened in March 1966. The Foster Grandparent program began during the 1966-68 biennium with 39 senior citizens serving 78 young residents. Major changes in the Farm and Grounds program took place, eliminating orchard, beef, and general farm activities. Improvements were made in the vocational training programs in poultry processing, grounds and greenhouse, and construction of the new food service building commenced.

In 1969, the Board of Control was dissolved and the Mental Health Division placed under the newly created Executive Department. Legal representation for persons involved in commitment hearings was required by a 1969 law.

During the following decade there were revolutionary advancement in methods of teaching residents with developmental disabilities. Federal funds became available to provide additional program opportunities to Fairview residents. These changes required increases in staff, especially those with educational backgrounds.

The last of the formerly extensive farming operations ceased with the closing of the poultry operations on June 30, 1977. The raising of hogs was discontinued two years earlier, ceasing operations that had provided all the ham, bacon, sausage, eggs, broilers, and pork chops used by Fairview. These operations slowly fell into red ink, becoming less appropriate for training programs as the average capability level of the residents declined.

A great change in the use of physical facilities also took place during this decade with the conversion of the apartments from housing of staff to housing of residents who were undergoing pre-release training. Four of the houses were also used in program training. Prigg Cottage was turned over to Corrections and these residents were assigned to the main campus on or before June 1976. Columbia Park Hospital was closed on June 30, 1977, and its residents were transferred to Fairview.

A court decision upheld a 1973 national re-definition of "mental retardation" that lowered the threshold I.Q. for mental retardation from 80 to 70. This resulted in the possible release of up to 84 residents who became ineligible for continued services. In addition, Fairview instituted an intensive 3-6 month community living skills training program for those residents who had chosen to wait for release.

During 1979, the facility changed its name from Fairview Hospital and Training Center to Fairview Training Center. In 1983, the U.S. Justice Department announced an investigation into the physical well-being of residents. The Institution was also put on alert that on-going inspections could be expected.

In July 1984, the U.S. Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) warned Fairview that federal funds would be cut within 180 days if federal standards were not met. As a result the state proposed a $25.3 million improvement plan and the funding cut-off was averted.

From March to June 1985, the U.S. Justice Department stated that it found life-threatening conditions at Fairview. State officials contended that federal officials ignored improvements. During this time the first Qualified Mental Retardation Professionals (QMRP) were classified and the Foster Grandparent Program celebrated its 20th anniversary.

The year also brought a suit filed by the U.S. Justice Department, the Association of Retarded Citizens (ARC) and two parents of Fairview residents against the State over Fairview's conditions. Within a year the Health Care Financing Administration cut off Medicaid funding over safety and staffing issues. An additional 600 employees were also hired during this time. By June, the House had approved Fairview funds and 30 million supplemental dollars were approved by the Joint Ways and Means Committee for Fairview improvements and development of community programs.

By August 1987, Medicaid funds were restored after a 14 week loss of $7 million and Fairview staff continued to work toward improving issues at the Training Center. During September 1988, HCFA revisited Fairview verifying that some of the immediate problems had been corrected, yet deciding to cut off Medicaid funds due to a concern about "Active Treatment" plans. The State appealed this decision.

In December, Governor Goldschmidt proposed spending an additional $14.7 million on Fairview and the development of Community Placement Programs during 1989-91, also recommending the reduction of client population by 50% to less than 500 by June 30, 1992. A congressional delegation urged HCFA to settle.

Finally an agreement was announced promising Fairview funds for a plan that establishes benchmarks for improvement. Federal reviews followed at six month intervals while the Justice Department and the Association of Retarded Citizens of Oregon's law suits remained pending. (Settlement was reached in July of 1989.)

Until its closure in July 2000, Fairview had served the mentally and physically handicapped for nearly a century. Its few remaining residents were transferred to group homes or returned to live with their families. Plans to utilize the abandoned grounds of Fairview include three "pedestrian-oriented residential neighborhoods" with large green spaces and a school or a campus of light commercial businesses.

A fire in 2010 destroyed one of the cottage buildings in the center of campus. As the vacant building fell into disrepair, the state fought to find a use for the property. Several of the newer style medical buildings were demolished. Finally, after several more failed attempts for reuse of the property, the remainder of buildings were demolished in early 2015. The historic cottage buildings were demolished in March of 2015.



A 1959 film used by the state to educate the public about the Fairview Training Center