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Morningside Hospital, Hazelwood, Oregon

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sanitarium-cropped-580x331Long before Alaska became a state, it established an unusual relationship with Oregon. Rather than simply trading local goods, Alaska exported its mentally ill, identifying them as “an insane person at large.”  This determination was usually made by a jury impaneled “to inquire, try and determine whether the person so complained of is really insane.”

Founded in 1899, Morningside Hospital was first run out of a family home. In 1904, Morningside received a contract from the U.S. Department of the Interior to treat mentally ill and handicapped patients from Alaska.
In 1905, the facility moved to Mt. Tabor, and five years later, to its final location in Hazelwood. The hospital had several name changes, including “Dr. Coe’s Nervous Sanitarium”, “Mindease”, “Mt. Tabor Sanitarium”, and “Crystal Springs Sanitarium”.

Once deemed insane, the people of Alaska destined for Morningside Hospital in Hazelwood, Oregon (outside of Portland) were subjected to a week in a straight jacket while travelling via steamship and train.

Morningside Hospital, a private facility with federal funding, was located on a 47-acre parcel of land in Hazelwood (at the junction of SE Start Street and 96th Avenue). Most patients had no medical history, no records, and probably had never seen a physician before arrival.

In 1941, a survey of Morningside patients found that the average age was between 30 and 40, usually men.  While almost 60% of the patients had no diagnosis, the identified ones included dementia, epilepsy, senility, paranoia, drug and alcohol addiction., and mental handicap in general.

One historical inspection of Morningside stated: “The greatest shortcoming lies in the fact that practically no psychiatric treatment is afforded the many patients who urgently need such treatment. The professional staff is inadequate numerically and professionally to provide the required treatment.” Morningside controlled its patients through medication, not locked cells.

Between 1905 and 1968, Morningside admitted close to 5,000 patients. In 1955, Morningside was challenged by federal legislation requiring the transfer of patients from Alaska back to Alaska. The Alaskan Mental Health Enabling Act was passed in 1956, and patients began the migration from Oregon back to their home state of Alaska.

Although the hospital tried to market itself to local citizens, it was never able to survive the loss of people from Alaska. In 1968, Morningside was closed and the property was sold, eventually redeveloped as Mall 205.

Photo credit: en.wikipedia.org

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Posted: September 27, 2014

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Category: All, Lost Hospitals, Oregon

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