Camarillo State Mental Hospital, Camarillo, California

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camarillo2Camarillo State Mental Hospital opened in 1936 on 1,760 acres of land purchased by the State of California four years earlier. The hospital would remain at the location until 1997.

The hospital had a sound reputation during the 1950s and 1960s. It was at the forefront of treating difficult illnesses, like drug and therapy procedures and schizophrenia. Indeed, programs started at Camarillo ultimately helped patients leave the hospital to group homes and on occasion independence. Camarillo also had one of the first autism units of any hospital.

Camarillo received criticism for its use of restraints and poor supervision, accused at times for “warehousing” rather than treating the mentally ill.  Eventually the changing community emphasized the release of patients and treating them in community-based group homes. The number of patients at Camarillo dropped steadily from 7,000 in the 1960s to 900 in 1996.

CamarilloIn 1996, California Governor Pete Wilson announced plans to close Camarillo. Community members and family members of patients, as well as employees of Camarillo, tried to keep Camarillo open. In late June 1997, Camarillo State Mental Hospital closed.

Attempts to convert the hospital into a prison failed, and eventually the California State University system converted the hospital into California State University, Channel Islands (CSUCI). CSUCI opened in the fall 2002 as Ventura County’s first public university. CSUCI had 2,300 students in 2006, but is expected to grow to 15,000 by 2025.

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Posted: August 17, 2014


Category: All, California, Lost Hospitals


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