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Featured Article Of The Week

Camarillo State Hospital


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In 1932, the State of California purchased 1,760 acres (7.1 km2) of the Lewis ranch, located three miles south of the city of Camarillo, and established the Camarillo State Mental Hospital. Camarillo State Hospital was in use from 1936 to 1997. During its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, the hospital was at the forefront of treating illnesses that previously had been thought of as untreatable. An example of this was the drug and therapy procedures the facility's doctors developed for schizophrenia. Many of these programs initiated at Camarillo helped patients formerly relegated to a lifetime of warehousing in an institution or lobotomies be able to leave the hospital and move to less restrictive group homes or become (at least nearly) independent. The hospital continued to be a leader in the research of drugs and therapies in subsequent years. They also had one of the first units of any hospital to deal with autism.

Due to its low patient number and the rising costs per patient, the governor of California at the time, Republican Pete Wilson, announced in January 1996 plans to close down the hospital in July 1997. Various members of the community, family members of patients, and employees of Camarillo made several last-ditch efforts to keep the hospital open, arguing in part that the patients are already used to Camarillo and questioned where they would go. Some tried to get mentally ill criminals placed in Camarillo in an effort to save it, a proposal that had come up several times before, but again community members were concerned of the risk of criminals escaping into the community. Pete Wilson ended up standing his ground and the hospital closed down in late June 1997, with the patients and research facilities moved to other locations. Click here for more...