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Borngasser Appointed by Governor

Fred Borngasser the Chairman of the ColumbiaCare Board of Directors has recently been appointed  to serve on a  new work group convened by Gov. Ted Kulongoski that will take up the issue of how to handle "guilty except for insanity" patients conditionally released from the Oregon State Hospital.

Topics will include how to site the secure residential treatment facilities that will house the patients and how to notify the communities where they are located.

The group's first meeting is Monday in Salem.

The issue flared in Cornelius in December when residents discovered that such a facility had opened there in August and that it housed eight people whose crimes ranged from rape to arson to resisting arrest.

Community members spoke out against the facility and city officials revoked its conditional use permit -- a move that is being appealed.

In Milwaukie the City purchased property out from under ColumbiaCare stopping them from proceeding with construction of a 15 bed facility that would have served from 4 to 8 PSRB clients.  Columbia Care has filied suit in Federal Court. 

The Cornelius facility, Connell House, is one of four operating in the state, including others in Umatilla, Woodburn and Jackson County. Three more are slated for Pendleton, Douglas County and Clackamas County, and three others are planned, with no locations determined yet.

The governor's group will meet monthly through September. It will comprise 22 members, including representatives from law enforcement agencies, counties and cities; mental health providers and advocates; defense attorneys; the Psychiatric Security Review Board; four legislators; and current and former state hospital patients.

The Psychiatric Security Review Board's job is to protect the public by judging whether the "guilty except for insanity" patients should remain at the state hospital or be conditionally released to a community facility.

Cornelius Police Chief Paul Rubenstein will attend Monday's meeting, along with city manager Dave Waffle. So will Washington County Sheriff Rob Gordon, who notified Cornelius residents in December about the facility in their neighborhood.

The group will clarify the current process for conditionally releasing patients, siting facilities and notifying communities, said Jillian Schoene, a spokeswoman for the governor.

One improvement was made in January, when the review board began notifying local law officers when a state hospital patient was being conditionally released into a facility within their communities.

The work group will look at how to further improve the process, Schoene said.

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