Patients Manage Recreation Plans, 1961

7 05 2012

The following article was published in the Capital Journal on April 28, 1961.

A girl who had talked to no one for seven years — separated from reality by an “escape mechanism” barrier– has shown her first progress through recreation therapy at Oregon State Hospital.

Brought by a staff aide to “The Hut,” she eventually accepted an invitation to dance with another patient.

“The Hut” will be one of two recreation halls to be viewed by visitors to open house Sunday from 1 to 4:30 pm.  Operated by a governing group of patients called the Quoncil, the quonset hut-shaped building is the site of patient-planned parties and dances.

Plan Recreation

The general public sometimes regards the mentally ill as being incompetent and unable to take responsibility, commented Mrs. Ida Boehmer, recreational therapy department director. Read the rest of this entry »





State Hospital Patients’ “New Look”, 1965

23 04 2012

The following is an excerpt from an Oregon Journal newspaper article published on Tuesday, April 20, 1965.  The changes described would not last long.  By 1969, patient clothing reappeared in the news. Articles in the Capital Journal (May 8th) and Oregon Statesman (May 10th) describe phasing out uniforms at the State Hospital.

By Marge Davenport

Journal Medical Writer

There’s a new look at the State Hospital in Salem.

It’s a bright, cheerful look and the patients are going to have it.

About a year ago, a consultant was asked to make an evaluation on the Oregon mental hospital. He was Dr. Hugh Caven of Eastern State Hospital at Medical Lake, Wash.

After surveying the institution he said, “The grounds are beautiful, the buildings are well kept and painted, but why don’t you paint the patients as well?”

HE EXPLAINED to puzzled State Hospital Administrator Dr. Dean Brooks that he thought nice looking, bright clothes for patients would go a long way towards improving morale, and helping the mental patient’s attitude.

Dr. Brooks agreed, but wondered how this could be accomplished on a yearly clothing budget of $9.79 per patient, the amount allowed for each person for the 12 month period. Read the rest of this entry »





Congratulations Mr. Mommsen!, 1958

2 11 2011

Dr. Dean K. Brooks, Governor Robert Holmes and Thomas Mommsen accepting award.  The Suggestor.  May 1958.The following is an article from the May 1958 edition of The Suggestor, a newsletter published by the Oregon State Employee Awards Board.

Congratulations, Mr. Mommsen!

After switching his attention from cutting meat to cutting costs, THOMAS N. MOMMSEN, meat cutter at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem, was presented a $400 award.  In the above picture Mommsen, on the right, is shown receiving his award from Governor ROBERT D. HOLMES as State Hospital Superintendent DEAN BROOKS looks on approvingly at the left.

Mommsen’s suggestion, which also won high praise from Gov. Holmes, involved processing and freezing of meat available from the hospital’s dairy herd and subtracting the amount from the hospital’s monthly contract for beef.  This will result in a reduction of 37,000 lbs. of meat that need to be purchased and will save the State and estimated $9,252 per year. Read the rest of this entry »





Wilderness as Therapy

1 08 2011

In 1972, 51 Oregon State Hospital patients and 51 Oregon State Hospital staff spent 16 days on a wilderness trip in Eastern Oregon.  It was an experimental, and perhaps radical, program designed to radically change the lives of its participants.

The idea for the expedition came when then Superintendent Dr. Dean K. Brooks witnessed transformations in a group of Girl Scouts undergoing a workshop with world-renown climber Lute Jerstad.  As a reporter quotes: “Last year he [Dr. Brooks] watched an adventure camp Jerstad ran for Girl Scouts and decided that if young people could change roles so dramatically when encouraged to face challenges of white water rafting, wilderness survival and rock climbing, it might also help the mentally ill develop new self-concepts.”[1]

Read the rest of this entry »





A Bushel of Shoes, 1969

9 05 2011

Superintendent Brooks with a bushel of shoes, 1969.

On September 15, 1969, Dr. Dean K. Brooks, then superintendent of the Oregon State Hospital, gave a speech before the Association of Medical Superintendents of Mental Hospitals at a meeting in Houston, Texas.  In it he described an experience while visiting a mental health facility on the East Coast that affected his outlook on institutions across the country.  While visiting a ward, he stumbled across a basket of shoes.  Women living on the ward were required to take off their shoes at the end of the day and put them in the basket.  The shoes could then be collected on a first come first serve basis the next morning.

This bushel of shoes represented to Dr. Brooks a dehumanization of the people living on that ward.  As he writes:

Dehumanization can be defined as the divestment of human capacities and functions and the Read the rest of this entry »