Section 1: The importance of his experiences at Morningside for better understanding the world of mental illness, and assessment of the quality of patient care and patient satisfaction.
Section 2: Alaskan patients being returned to Alaska when Morningside was shutting down, and his suspicions about some of the treatments utilized at the hospital.
KAREN BREWSTER: So we just finished that you retired in 1995 --
CHARLES KURTZ: Uh-hum.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- from the liquor board. Really, Morningside, in a way, was a very short portion of your life and career.
CHARLES KURTZ: I was just working there to get myself through college, mostly; and the first time, of course, was just a summer high school job, so... KAREN BREWSTER: But do you feel that that experience has meant something?
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, yes, absolutely. It was a great experience. I -- it's one of those things that people don't often get a chance to do something like that, I don't think, so...
There -- you know, there's so many -- so many ideas and wrongheadedness about what mental illness is like, and it's -- it's -- I think everybody ought to have an opportunity to get to see the reality of it. So... KAREN BREWSTER: Did -- did it influence your decision to go into social work?
CHARLES KURTZ: No. I don't think so. I already -- well, maybe in a -- in a way. I actually went into social work mainly because there was a -- I needed a job fast. And -- and after I started doing it, I kind of -- I found myself kind of drawn to it, I enjoyed the work, and so -- but I don't -- maybe Morningside had some bit of influence, but probably not too much. KAREN BREWSTER: And then your mother, you said she enjoyed her years working at Morningside?
CHARLES KURTZ: Yeah, I think so. Although she was -- she had -- she had a few physical problems, it was a very physical job, you know, you're wheeling around big pans of stuff, and so -- but yes, she liked the patients and she liked the people she worked with. Generally speaking. I'm sure there were times when that wasn't the case, like in any job. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I wondered if she came home with stories about -- talk about what happened at work that day?
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, I'm sure she did, but I -- you know, nothing dramatic, nothing -- I don't remember a lot of drama about the stories, but mostly just day-to-day stuff. KAREN BREWSTER: It sounds like from what you're talking, too, it was a mellow -- you know, a relatively kind of mellow place, which to me seems counterintuitive to what one might stereotypically associate with a mental hospital.
CHARLES KURTZ: That's -- I think that's probably true, yeah. It was a mellow place, and -- and, I mean, I guess you -- I guess you'd have to ask the patients, but I -- I think most of the patients had -- outside of being torn out of their home and sent thousands of miles away, I -- I don't -- I don't recall anybody trying to leave the place. I mean, like that. KAREN BREWSTER: So you got a sense from the patients that they were comfortable there?
CHARLES KURTZ: I -- you've got to -- you know, outside of the fact that -- that they were living in a -- they had no privacy living in these wards, and -- which I guess I'm putting myself inside their head, I would not have liked that part of it. But, on the other hand, I think that they were -- that they would have felt that they were treated well and fairly, and that -- and probably a lot of them felt that they were getting some help there. I'm just, I guess, inferring that from being around them, so... I don't remember ever having those kind of discussions with the patients about -- not too much anyway. Section 2:
KAREN BREWSTER: And eventually, all the Alaska patients, I believe, were returned to Alaska, or a large -- they were sort of a --
CHARLES KURTZ: You know, I'm not really sure how that happened, when they -- when they lost the contract with Alaska, whether they -- they sent everybody home or whether they released -- I'm sure they must have released some people here because there were probably people who were ready for release about that time. But I just -- I really don't know. I just -- by that time, I was off in my own -- KAREN BREWSTER: Right. You weren't working there anymore.
CHARLES KURTZ: Doing something else. I had another job and a young family, and so I probably wasn't paying much attention to that, yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: You weren't big -- that's what I was learning, that happened after you had stopped working.
CHARLES KURTZ: It happened after I stopped working there. And -- and it hap -- after my mother retired, actually, she retired in mid 1965, and -- and I think that -- that there were still Alaskan patients there then. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. Are there other things that you remember from working there that we haven't talked about that you had in mind when you wrote us on the blog?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, no, I think I've kind of hit the -- the high spots and the low spots, the things that I didn't really care for, the things that I -- that I remember in a positive light, so I think I've pretty well covered it. KAREN BREWSTER: We also would like to hit the low spots, too. It doesn't all have to be --
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I -- you know, as far as the low spots for me, I think, were these -- these suspect treatments where they were use -- where I think they were using -- using under the rubric of "treatment" where they were actually just controlling patients, and I was suspicious of that at the time. And on the other hand, it -- I guess from their point of view, it was a way to keep the place open and keep the locks off the doors and try to keep everybody happy. And well, I think, looking back, it was a very progressive -- very progressive place, I think. And, I mean, maybe people disagree with me, but that was my impression, it still is. KAREN BREWSTER: All right. Well, thank you very much. Actually, I don't know, how did you find the blog?
CHARLES KURTZ: You know, it was one of those -- one of those -- the Internet, you know.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
CHARLES KURTZ: You're always looking, so...
Well, I just -- I did a search for Morningside Hospital once, and I think the only thing I turned up was the -- was a piece of Congressional testimony about this.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. CHARLES KURTZ: And then years later probably I tried it again, and I found the -- the blog that you mentioned. But I don't know what that's called.
KAREN BREWSTER: The Morningside blog.
CHARLES KURTZ: Morningside blog, yeah. And I found that and so I -- I was curious, and so I wrote my little e-mail. And again, I think that -- I'm really glad to see that people are interested in this place, and I hope that -- it's too bad that this didn't start about 20 -- 20 years ago when a lot of these people were still alive, particularly the patients, because, of course, you'd get probably a lot different story from -- from the patients than you're getting from me.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right. CHARLES KURTZ: And it's -- it's too bad that -- but I'll bet there's still some around.
KAREN BREWSTER: May be.
CHARLES KURTZ: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: And when did your mother pass away?
CHARLES KURTZ: '90 -- about the time I retired, about '95. She was 95 years old.
KAREN BREWSTER: Good for her.
CHARLES KURTZ: Yeah. I've got good genes.
KAREN BREWSTER: Good genes. All right. Well, thank you very much.
CHARLES KURTZ: Okay.
KAREN BREWSTER: I'm going to turn this off now.
Charles Kurtz was interviewed by Karen Brewster on November 1, 2010 at his home in Portland, Oregon on a grey and blustery November afternoon. His mother, Tina Kurtz, worked as a cook at Morningside Hospital in the 1950s and 1960s, and he worked there first as a kitchen helper when he was a teenager and later as a psychiatric aide in the early 1960s. In this interview, Charles talks about how Morningside Hospital functioned, what it was like to work there, who some of the other staff members were, and how staff and residents related to each other. He also discusses the types of treatments used, and provides his assessment of the quality and type of care provided to Morningside residents.
Part two of this interview.
Click to section:
Section 1: His personal background and growing up on farms and rural living.
Section 2: His mother working as a cook at Morningside in the 1950s and 1960s.
Section 3: His mother having patients or former patients stay at the family home, and the turnover of patients in residence at Morningside Hospital.
Section 4: Working in the kitchen at Morningside Hospital starting when he was in high school, and how patients also worked in the kitchen.
Section 5: The dining rooms and meals served at Morningside Hospital, and his work as a psychiatric aide on the night shift.
Section 6: Types of treatments used on patients, including medication, insulin shock therapy and electro-shock therapy.
Section 7: The use of medication to treat patients and the type of training he received to work as a psychiatric aide on the men's ward.
Section 8: What Morningside Hospital was like as a place to work, and how some of the psychiatric aides had worked at other psychiatric hospitals around the country.
Section 9: Tells a story about a particular incident where one patient attacked another and having to physically intervene to separate them.
Section 10: How staff members got along with each other, an incident of a murder suicide between Morningside employees, and working the nightshift with other people on the ward.
Section 11: Working with the psychiatrists on staff, and having limited contact as a nightshift worker.
Section 12: Henry Coe and management of Morningside Hospital, and how the staff communicated with patients who did not speak English, such as the Native Alaskans.
Section 13: Alaska patients coming to Morningside and learning about their backgrounds, and the congressional investigation of Morningside.
Section 14: Being one of the youngest psychiatric aides at Morningside, and the work he went on to do after leaving Morningside.
KAREN BREWSTER: This is Karen Brewster. And today is November 1st, 2010, and I'm here in Portland, Oregon, interviewing Charles Kurtz for the Mental Health Trust history project.
Thank you for letting me come visit you today.
CHARLES KURTZ: You're welcome.
KAREN BREWSTER: And we will be talking about Morningside Hospital, but just to get things going, if you would tell us a little bit about yourself and when and where you were born. CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I was born in Idaho. My parents traveled around a little bit until we settled in Oregon when I was about 11 years old. I've lived here in Oregon ever since, and in Portland since I was about a -- a senior in high school.
KAREN BREWSTER: And what kind of work did your father do? CHARLES KURTZ: Well, my stepfather was a carpenter, and that's one of the reasons we moved around. It was during the -- during the Second World War and right after the war, and work wasn't always available, so we traveled quite a lot.
KAREN BREWSTER: And your mother, what did she do, work? CHARLES KURTZ: Well, my mother was a cook, and that was her lifelong profession; and that's how I became acquainted with Morningside Hospital, my mother started working there in about 1950, she took a job as a -- as a cook at Morningside Hospital.
KAREN BREWSTER: And you have siblings?
CHARLES KURTZ: I do, yes, I have a brother and sister, both deceased, and an older brother who lives in San Diego. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. And so what was your childhood like? What was that like growing up around here in Portland?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I -- I had spent most of my younger life living in the country on farms in Nevada, we -- we lived for two or three years on a -- on a farm out in the middle of the desert with no electricity, no running water. Pretty -- pretty bare life, and essentially self-supporting on a farm. And later moved, when we first moved to Oregon, when I was in about the fifth grade, we moved to a little town called Canby about 30 miles south of Portland, and lived on a farm there. Beautiful place, wonderful country and great place for a kid to grow up. I -- I certainly learned a lot about -- about the country through those -- through those experiences. I'm very comfortable out in the woods and as a result of that. Section 2:
KAREN BREWSTER: So tell me about your mom's working at Morningside.
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, she started working at Morningside when we were living in Estacada, it's a little town, again, outside of Portland, just east of Portland. And times were a little bit tough for the family, and so she got this job, and actually lived at -- she stayed at Morningside and the family continued to live in Estacada. And my stepfather was a carpenter and -- and many -- many of the employees at Morningside actually lived there. They had -- they had apartments for many of the folks who worked there. And that made -- that made it a little bit difficult for the family, but jobs were hard to come by, and so it worked out all right. KAREN BREWSTER: So did she come home to visit? Or would you --
CHARLES KURTZ: She would come home on weekends, or probably not weekends, whatever her days off were, which weren't always weekends. And hours were long in those days, it was before the 40-hour work week, so -- so it was a little unpredictable when she was able to get time off. So... KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. And then did you as a family go visit her every week?
CHARLES KURTZ: From time to time, sure, yes. I -- I can recall visiting her when she was there.
KAREN BREWSTER: So what were your first impressions? Can you remember what the place looked like?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, it was a -- it was a beautiful area. It was -- the entrance was essentially a park, it was grass and wooded and big trees and it really didn't look like a hospital. The buildings were set back off -- off of Stark Street, the main road where its front entrance was. And I -- probably most people driving by had -- really wouldn't know that this was a psychiatric hospital unless they were, you know, familiar with it. It also had -- it -- Morningside had its own farm. And they raised much of the -- much of the vegetables that they ate were raised there. They also had a prize-winning dairy herd, Holstein dairy herd, so all of their dairy products, they -- they came right from their farm. Raised hogs, so some of the -- some of the other, you know, meat that they ate all came from there. And so that was kind of what the place looked like. If you -- if you were driving down another street, 92nd or Division, one of the streets surrounding it, it looked like a nice well-kept truck farm, a very beautiful place. Well -- well kept.
KAREN BREWSTER: And how long did your mother work there?
CHARLES KURTZ: She worked there until she retired in about 1960. She retired in 1965. And the hospital was still open when she retired, but it didn't -- it wasn't open much longer after that. KAREN BREWSTER: Did she talk about what it was like to work there?
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, yeah, sure.
KAREN BREWSTER: Did she share stories with you there?
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, yeah. She enjoyed -- she liked working there. She -- I think she enjoyed the patients. Many of the patients, of course, worked in the -- in the kitchen and in the dining room, and she got to know those folks quite well. In fact, she often, after -- in later years when we moved to -- when she bought a house in Portland, she would bring patients home with her on weekends to give them an opportunity to get out of the place. So -- and she was very comfortable, very familiar with the place, liked it a lot. I think she always enjoyed working there. KAREN BREWSTER: Did she talk about patients from Alaska being there?
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, yeah. We all knew that that's what it -- I mean, essentially, we -- I just thought of it as the Alaska state mental hospital. I mean, there -- even when I worked there last in the early '60s, virtually everybody there was from Alaska. There were -- they were starting to take a few private patients then, but essentially everybody -- all -- everybody was from Alaska. Section 3:
KAREN BREWSTER: You said your mom brought patients home. Was that typical of the employees, they would do that?
CHARLES KURTZ: I don't know if it was typical of other employees. I know that she -- she liked these folks, and it was an opportunity for -- usually they had no family nearby, or any other -- no visitors, so it was just a way to give them a break, I guess, give them a chance to see something besides the hospital.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
CHARLES KURTZ: So... KAREN BREWSTER: Do you remember any of those people?
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, I do, yeah. I have a picture of one of the young women that she -- she brought. I was trying to remember her name. I unfortunately couldn't. If I saw -- if I -- I think if I saw a list of the -- I believe I did at one time, there was a roster that I've looked at on -- on your website, had a list of patients from the mid '50s, I think, and I recognized many of the names on there. And I probably, if this young woman, if I saw her name, I'd probably recognize that, too, but I don't remember it offhand.
KAREN BREWSTER: And how long did she stay with you when she came? Just, like, for a weekend or --
CHARLES KURTZ: Yeah, just for -- just a weekend, on my mother's days off, she would bring them home. And then one -- one -- when I went into the -- when I was in the service and not living at home, my mother actually -- one of the women who was discharged actually lived with my mother for a while. KAREN BREWSTER: Do you know why?
CHARLES KURTZ: My mother liked her and she had no -- no other relatives, and so my mother had -- had an extra room since I was gone, and so she rented her a room. She stayed there for, oh, three or four years, probably. KAREN BREWSTER: So there were patients that got discharged?
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, yeah, sure. Yeah. In fact, I think when I -- when I worked there as a psychiatric aide in '61, '62, '3, somewhere around in there, there was a -- there was a turnover on the -- where I worked on the -- mainly on Ward A, which was the -- which was the men's ward, these were -- these were mostly men who had acute psychoses of some type or other, and there was somewhat of a turnover, they'd come and go. Some of them came -- came and went more than once, you know, back and --
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, yeah. CHARLES KURTZ: I remember a couple guys who would leave and we'd see them back again in another few months. So -- so they didn't come -- people didn't come down there and just stay there forever. Actually, I -- of course, I can only really speak for the ward that I worked on.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
CHARLES KURTZ: And over the years, I guess I saw plenty of people who came and went, so... KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. There's the -- in Alaska, there's a bit of a feeling, at least in the earlier time periods of Morningside, that people came here and they never came back home.
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I can understand it, and I'm sure that there were a lot that did. Also, I mean, even on the ward that I worked, there were people who were pretty chronically ill who would never go home, and they had been there for years, so I could understand how that perception would exist. And -- and, of course, there were also -- occasionally I worked on the -- on Ward B, which were adult developmentally disabled men, and I would imagine that most of those were pretty well permanently there. Section 4:
KAREN BREWSTER: Now, what was your mother's name?
CHARLES KURTZ: Her name was Tina Kurtz.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. So it's interesting, that woman you said, you know, went and lived with your mother while you weren't there, that that woman must have been, you know, able to function fine.
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, sure, yeah. Sure. Yeah. Apparently, they -- apparently, whatever her problem was, she was -- was successfully cured --
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
CHARLES KURTZ: -- you might say. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. And were you or your mother around when patients started getting returned to Alaska when the hospital was starting to close down?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, my mother was; I wasn't.
KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-hum.
CHARLES KURTZ: And I -- I don't really remember her talking about that too much, so even although at that time I was still living here in Portland, but I didn't -- I really don't remember her talking about it. I think she was looking forward to retirement, so... KAREN BREWSTER: What I was wondering about, you know, that -- this one young woman, as an example, she lived -- stayed and lived here in Portland with your mom.
CHARLES KURTZ: She was not a young woman.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.
CHARLES KURTZ: She was elderly, actually, so...
KAREN BREWSTER: So then what happened to her? You know, did she end up going home to Alaska, or -- CHARLES KURTZ: You know, I am not sure. I think that -- I think she had, at some point, located another relative or a friend and had some other place to go eventually, and I guess I can't be clearer than that. I mean, I wasn't living with my mother at the time, so I...
KAREN BREWSTER: Right. Why don't we go back a step and tell me about your experiences working there. You said you first started at Morningside when you were in high school? CHARLES KURTZ: Yes. Actually, I just -- between my junior and senior year of high school, I -- my mother got me a job out there as a kitchen helper. And so I worked in the kitchen for about two months. Toward the end of -- I guess about the second month, one of the relief cooks quit suddenly, and I got drafted into actually being -- being a cook, and that was pretty exciting for me. I was 16 years old, so -- KAREN BREWSTER: Did you know how to cook?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I -- that -- the little I knew and with my mother's coaching, and everybody pulled together and made sure I was successful. There were, I think, about -- there were, I believe, five stations in the kitchen that my mother, her primarily -- primary job was chef for the employees. There was another chef who -- who worked primarily with the patients, the dining room. And then there was a pastry chef and -- and I don't recall exactly what the duties of the fifth one were, and then the relief cook who took over when -- on these people's days off. So I did each of those jobs from time to time.
KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. CHARLES KURTZ: With -- with a lot of help. People were -- people were really good about that.
KAREN BREWSTER: And so what kind of food was served?
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, the food was -- it -- they fed well. I mean, of course, much of it was fresh produce; of course, during the summertime, it was all fresh from their -- from their farm, and fresh dairy products all the time. Patients usually had a different menu or same menu, but different -- it was cooked -- because they cooked it in large quantities, it was usually cooked differently; although, sometimes the meals were all the same, employees and patients were the same, depending on what the menu was. For example, I remember getting up in the morning when I was working on the -- the big range, and I'd have to make pancakes for employees and patients alike, and that was a -- you can imagine the number of pancakes I'd be turning out in the morning. I got pretty good at it, I could whip them right out. KAREN BREWSTER: Do you have a sense of how many patients there were there at that time?
CHARLES KURTZ: You know, I was thinking about that. I probably at one time knew, but I would -- I can't imagine more than 300. I --
KAREN BREWSTER: That's a lot of pancakes.
CHARLES KURTZ: That's a lot of pancakes, yeah. And of course, patients were -- I guess they called this occupational therapy; actually, it's probably a way of getting cheap labor in one regard, but patients did much of the work in the kitchen. You know, all of the -- you know, besides the technical cooking things. They also worked the -- worked on the farm and -- and so many of them were active and busy a lot. KAREN BREWSTER: What kind of things did they do in the kitchen?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, they -- of course, the -- all of the table setting and the clear -- I can remember that all of the produce that would be brought in from the field would have to be cleaned and sorted, and so that's -- that's mostly the kind of work that they did. Assisting the baker and those kinds of things. KAREN BREWSTER: Dishwashing?
CHARLES KURTZ: Dish -- yeah -- well, they had automatic equipment that did most of the dishwashing, although one of the patients I remember quite well was the -- he worked in the scullery washing all of the big pots and pans and things that couldn't go through the automatic dishwasher. And, of course, serving, and all of those things they did. Section 5:
KAREN BREWSTER: So what -- how was the dining room set up? You just said serving them. Were people served or was there a line they walked through?
CHARLES KURTZ: The -- on the employees's side, they were served. The employees came in and they sort of came in in shifts and had table service. The patients, they went through a line. Unless, of course, they were not capable of doing that, and then they had assistance eating. And I really didn't have much -- since I was mainly in the kitchen, I didn't have much experience in the patients's dining room. And I -- I -- really, I'm not recalling. I know there were people who were certainly not capable of walking through a line, but I'm assuming that they had assistance of some sort, but as I sit here, I'm not remembering exactly how that worked. KAREN BREWSTER: What I find interesting is that the employees and the patients had separate dining rooms.
CHARLES KURTZ: Well --
KAREN BREWSTER: I never would have thought about it. So it's good to know that.
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, the patients, they were a little bit -- part of it was because of the shift work of the employees, they ate at different times. I mean, they had different meal schedules, that the -- the patients always ate at the same time, and that was one of the reasons. And -- but essentially, the menus were always pretty much alike.
KAREN BREWSTER: And was it three meals a day?
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, yeah, right.
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you remember some of the menus, some of the things?
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, well, let's see. Some of my favorites, I always liked the Swiss steak was one of my -- was one of my mother's specialties. Barbecued ribs, ribs with sauerkraut, stew, soups. Desserts were apple cobblers and coconut cream rolls, jelly rolls, I made all of those kinds of things. Of course, breakfast was -- usually the -- the patients's breakfast would be, just because of the quantities, usually ate things like scrambled eggs, whereas the employees often could have eggs to order because there were fewer of those, so...
And you know, hot cereal for breakfast, pancakes, French toast. All the standard things. Hash-browned potatoes. KAREN BREWSTER: Sounds like good meals.
CHARLES KURTZ: Very good. I -- nobody could complain about the food at that place. Very good food.
KAREN BREWSTER: You mentioned the vegetables. Were they -- did they ever have excess that they sold or it was all just --
CHARLES KURTZ: Maybe. I don't -- I don't really know about that. Probably because they produced there -- they had a huge -- quite a large farm there, so it's possible that they did, I just don't know. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. Do you have a sense -- well, that was your summer job in high school?
CHARLES KURTZ: Right.
KAREN BREWSTER: And then you worked there again --
CHARLES KURTZ: Years after I -- I went in the service for four years, and when I started college, oh, I -- I guess I was probably in my second year of college. I got married and I needed a job, I couldn't -- I couldn't afford to not work anymore. I used to work part-time now and then, but I -- after I got married, I needed more money, so I got a job working nights out there, psychiatric aide. And about -- I guess it would have been about 1961. I should have been more precise about these dates, but things get a little bit vague in my memory, so -- but I worked strictly nights. I went to work at eleven o'clock at night and got off at 7:00 in the morning.
KAREN BREWSTER: So what were your duties?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, my duties were -- at night primarily were just to deal with any patient issues, if -- if they came up; mostly, they were sleeping. And cleaning, we did -- we did some cleaning at night, in the -- on Ward A, where I primarily worked, patients, they weren't private rooms, but they were about four to a room with -- with day rooms and open areas. And so much of the cleaning was done at night. And that's part of our job, we did some of that, not all of it, but just to keep the place up to date. So that was -- our duties at night were probably just making sure nothing bad happened.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
CHARLES KURTZ: Essentially, being there. So...
KAREN BREWSTER: And how many other people were on shift with you?
CHARLES KURTZ: There were two of us on each ward. And they -- this is probably imprecise, but there were two mens ward, Ward A, Ward B. Ward A, as I said, was primarily acute psychotic males; Ward B, developmentally disabled adult males. There was what was called a children's ward. Again, mostly those -- mostly developmentally disabled kids. And there I think were two women's wards also similar to the men's wards. Ward -- Ward C and D, I think. I may not be precise here. And then an infirmary, which where, you know, patients were physically ill, there were -- like a little mini hospital. But occasionally, they also, the -- there were a couple of side rooms there for -- if -- if a patient was really acting out and having a difficult time, often they were put in a side room in the infirmary. KAREN BREWSTER: Like an isolation room? Is that what they were?
CHARLES KURTZ: They were an isolation room. And of course, the -- during my second tour there, of course, this was -- the difference between my first tour and my second tour was Thorazine, you know, psycho -- the drugs. And so now during the time I was there the second, they really prided themselves on having an open hospital. There were no locks, no restraints. And -- and they were able to keep their no-lock policy in those side rooms because they took the door handles off the inside of the doors, so... Section 6:
KAREN BREWSTER: So you mentioned Thorazine. Can you talk about that, how you saw that make a difference?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, just in terms -- you know, I -- at the time, I was going to college, and I was actually majoring in psychology, not because I worked there, because I was kind of interested in it, and I, frankly, had a lot of questions about the use of -- I say Thorazine as a kind of generic term, but there were certainly other drugs that they used, as well. And it was -- it was used often for patient control. I really wondered about that.
I -- on the other hand, it -- you know, it seemed -- it seemed to work in terms of helping people who were often distressed if they didn't have it. So it's hard to know. I'm not an expert on it, but I think I -- I also think -- I think I mentioned maybe in one of my -- one of my e-mails to you about the -- I think probably a -- I think maybe a little bit of a milestone in psychiatric treatment because they were still using insulin shock therapy when I started working there. And I -- I'd like to tell a little story about this, because I -- it's -- I think it's kind of interesting and sad. I had -- I hadn't been working there long when I went back the second time, it's like, and there were two patients that were scheduled for insulin therapy, one on my ward, a young man; and a young woman who I didn't know on the -- on one of the women's ward. And for some reason, I -- I guess I wasn't thinking too much of it at the time, I have my opinions now about it, but this was kind of a big deal. And there was a lot of -- a lot of energy around the fact that these two people were going to have this treatment. And since I worked nights, I really wasn't -- I wasn't plugged in well to the grapevine or what was going on, but I really sensed this. After -- after three or four treatments, the young woman died, and it was quite a -- an event. And I -- looking back on this, I don't think that's the first time that it happened. I think that that's one of the reasons that people were so -- all this energy was around this treatment because I think they'd had bad results from it in the past. Now, the young man was later released, he seemed to... But I just started doing a lot of reading about -- about these kinds of therapies, and I -- that -- that was very disturbing to me. To this day, I think that it was a -- that was sort of the last time they used insulin therapy, shock therapy in that hospital, and I imagine anyplace. I don't think that anybody used it anymore. KAREN BREWSTER: For people who don't know, are you able to describe what that insulin shock treatment was?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, yeah. Let me just -- when -- when this patient died, one of the -- they had a psychiatrist whose name was Thompson, I don't remember his first name, Dr. Thompson, came down and gave us a little talk. And of course, I'd been reading about the therapy before, so this wasn't particularly news to me, but insulin shock therapy was invented by a guy in Germany back in the late 1800s who -- who had -- who concluded that because he -- he had never seen an epileptic who was schizophrenic, he concluded that somehow the convulsions that epileptics have somehow had something to do with the brain circuitry that prevented schizophrenia. That was his theory.
And so he used insulin to create convulsions, people would have insulin reactions, they would go into these terrible convulsions. I never witnessed this, but I've certainly read about it. And where those -- it was convulsions that presumably were the therapeutic process by -- by which this therapy worked.
Electroshock therapy, of course, is a similar -- worked similar, same theory, same idea. Now, it's interesting to know that in my -- I -- I bet you there were at least 10 percent of the schizo -- people diagnosed as schizophrenic -- schizophrenia on my ward were also epileptic, so I don't know how this theory ever held up or why people continued to use this treatment. I've never -- I've never understood, well, electroshock therapy either. I've yet to see a psychiatrist who ordered it who would be willing to lay down and have it done to them, so...
So I've -- one of my -- one of my jobs, if we had anybody on our ward who was scheduled for ECT, or electroshock therapy, one of my last jobs before I left in the morning would be to take them down to the -- to get ready for their electroshock. They had it first thing in the morning. KAREN BREWSTER: So they were still practicing electroshock --
CHARLES KURTZ: Yes.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- when you were --
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, yes, and for years after. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they are still doing it in some places.
KAREN BREWSTER: And did you notice improvement in those patients?
CHARLES KURTZ: Some, yes. And it was used primarily for what we then called manic-depressive cases, which are now I think called bipolar. And people who got into deep depressions, it usually helped them, and -- and they kind of looked forward to it. KAREN BREWSTER: Interesting.
CHARLES KURTZ: But there were also patients when they were very severely depressed that the ECT didn't seem to do any good at all, didn't seem to make a difference. The more depressed they were, the less -- the less effect it had. That was my impression anyway, just my observations. And unfortunately, it also is used from time to time for patient control. People who would get very agitated and were in a very manic state, they often -- and in those cases, I -- my feeling was, is that it was for less -- less therapy, but more just control, just to keep people calmed down. Section 7:
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. We were just talking about some of the treatments. You said Thorazine or similar medications, did you see those being effective for people?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I -- it made people calm. It -- again, if -- if patients were agitated or -- or were having a difficult time with -- you know, harming themselves or other patients, it would -- it would help. It would, you know, make them more self-reliant. In terms of did it help their disease, you know, I don't know. That's a different question. I have -- I did see patients come in a -- in -- and have a course of drug treatment and then leave and seemingly better. That whether that was the drugs or something else, I -- I'm not -- I can't judge that. KAREN BREWSTER: So on the wards, you -- so you worked on the men's wards and you were men working on the men's wards.
CHARLES KURTZ: Right.
KAREN BREWSTER: On the women's wards, were the aides male or female?
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, they were female. Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
CHARLES KURTZ: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: And you didn't have any training as a psychiatric aide, did you?
CHARLES KURTZ: Just what they gave me there --
KAREN BREWSTER: What kind of aide --
CHARLES KURTZ: -- which was fairly limited. Mainly it was a -- it was probably mostly a session with -- with the head nurse whose name was Lynette McCoy, by the way. I don't know if you have that name in your -- KAREN BREWSTER: I've heard that name, yeah.
CHARLES KURTZ: And -- and mostly her -- her -- her orientation mostly had to do with -- with how you treated patients. She was a strong believer in treating patients well. And -- and that was kind of the -- I guess the core message of all of the training that I got, so... And she was kind of the -- one of the strong leaders of that. People didn't last long if they didn't do that, it was a very important issue for them.
The other training I got was just from the lead aide on the ward who -- who worked days, but would -- and I would stay over an hour in the morning or so and have some, whatever it was that I -- you know, I really don't remember what the training was about. It wasn't very complicated. These weren't -- these weren't really complicated jobs. I mean, we weren't involved in patient treatment ourselves, just patient care.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. But did the daytime aides, do you know what kinds of things they did?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I don't, really. I think they certainly interacted much more with the patients than we did because when I was there, patients were mostly asleep; not always, but mostly. And in the mornings, they were always busy just getting dressed and those kind -- so there really wasn't much interaction. But in the daytime, yes, they had -- there were lots of activities going on, games and lecture. I mean, they always had something going on, but I didn't really have much personal experience with it. KAREN BREWSTER: Do you know if any of the other aides were more experienced than you, or were they all like you that they were just kind of there and --
CHARLES KURTZ: You know, actually, there were a lot of aides there who were -- were in the profession, essentially, and had worked in other mental hospitals around the country. And they, in fact, used to talk about this mental hospital and that mental, and they compared them. And they -- and they refer to themselves as bughousers. That was kind of what their -- their slang term for them, you know, these people who kind of worked the circuits.
KAREN BREWSTER: I've never heard that term.
CHARLES KURTZ: Really?
KAREN BREWSTER: What does that refer to?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, it refers to the fact that these were people who -- who worked in psychiatric hospitals. Bug houses. That's what they -- that was a slang term for them in those days, so... Now, I don't think that the -- I don't think this is a term that -- that they used in anything other than a -- I mean, I don't think that they were denigrating mentally ill people, it was just what they thought was an amusing term for themselves.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, mental hospitals have had many slang terms associated with them over the years.
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, they sure have.
KAREN BREWSTER: For sure.
CHARLES KURTZ: Yeah. Section 8:
KAREN BREWSTER: When you -- when those more professional aides were talking and comparing --
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, when I say "professional," I only say -- I only mean the fact that they were very experienced and had worked in -- in not only Morningside, but other -- other similar hospitals, as well. For example, in the state hospital at Salem, there's one up in Eastern Washington, which I don't remember the name of, and those were the two that they most frequently had worked with, but also Idaho, Col -- I mean, I heard them talking about hospitals all over the country. KAREN BREWSTER: And did you hear them say how they compared Morningside to those other places?
CHARLES KURTZ: I think most of them liked Morningside a lot, was my impression.
KAREN BREWSTER: Did they comment on how it was in terms of for the patients?
CHARLES KURTZ: You know, I -- they may have, but I, again, I -- as a person working nights, I really didn't have that much contact with them. But one of the -- one of the people that I knew quite well who -- who had worked at several is he was the -- the night watchman, his name was Clyde Johns. His wife, whose first name was Della, I think, she al -- she worked as a psychiatric aide in the women's ward, he worked as a night watchman, and they had been around the country working in -- in other psychiatric hospitals. KAREN BREWSTER: Interesting.
CHARLES KURTZ: And, I guess, now that I think about it, he is the person that I got a lot of information about because he was always chatty and would tell me all these stories. But you know, again, I don't remember anybody really talking about the patient care issue, but one of the things about Morningside I think people liked is it was small and not quite as institutionalized as some of the larger places. I know I visited -- visited the State Hospital at Salem during that time, and I was astounded. I mean, it was a very similar place, but just massive in compare -- I mean, the size, they weren't really comparable. KAREN BREWSTER: So the -- those other aides talked about, in terms of as a staff person, which was a better place to work?
CHARLES KURTZ: Yeah, I think that's really what they were -- yeah. It was a more comfortable place to work for them.
KAREN BREWSTER: And how was it for you as a place to work?
CHARLES KURTZ: I was -- it was -- I liked working there. I actually enjoyed my contact with the patients. I enjoyed mostly my contacts with my fellow employees. And -- and I was -- you know, because my mother had worked there for so long, it was a very familiar place to me. I -- you know, I had been visiting there since I was a little kid, so -- well, not a little kid, but 12 or 13 years old, however. So it was very comfortable for me and very familiar, so... Section 9:
KAREN BREWSTER: As you said, you worked nights, so you might not have sense of this, but I'm wondering how the patients got along with each other.
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I don't -- I mean, I think that people got along well. I mean, I don't recall -- although I -- on my own ward, I think probably the biggest -- the biggest -- well, I shouldn't say biggest, but the only times that I ever really had much difficulty with physical violence was a patient being angry at another patient. This would happen once in awhile. But -- but I -- mostly, I think people got along okay, at least nothing I can remember to suggest otherwise.
KAREN BREWSTER: So in that situation you just gave about two patients angry with each other, how did you handle that?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, it depends what the situation was. I mean, I remember once walking into the day room and finding, well, here is a big commotion, and one of the -- we had -- temporarily on our ward, had a older teenager who had been on the children's wards who was -- who -- who got upset at an older patient on our ward and had attacked him and was choking him, and so I just kind of physically pried them apart, and... KAREN BREWSTER: And then how was the patient who was the aggressor, what happened to him?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, we -- we sort of -- we sat him down and got the nurse up and the nurse probably gave him a shot, something to calm him down. That was usually what happened. You always depend on a shot of something, you know, if the patient got out of hand. KAREN BREWSTER: And as an aide, you didn't -- as an aide, you weren't allowed to administer medications?
CHARLES KURTZ: No. No. And we weren't allowed to use restraints; although, in the case I just described, I physically held the kid. I mean, I -- there was nothing I could really do except hold him to keep him from -- and he calmed down pretty fast anyway as soon as he... And there were a couple of other situations like that, and that's the one I think that really stood out because the older guy was getting hurt pretty bad, so...
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you know what caused it?
CHARLES KURTZ: I don't, no. It was everybody was getting up, it was one of those times when everybody was getting up and getting dressed, and the shift was changing, and so a lot of -- a lot of stuff was going on, so... The ward was in two -- really two pieces. There was -- one end of the ward was fairly close to where our workstation was where we hung out most of the time, and the other end of the ward was down a long hall and quite a little ways away, so that's where this altercation took place. And so by the time I heard the noise and got down there, it was already underway. So -- but I don't know what started it. KAREN BREWSTER: So how many patients were in that ward?
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, I -- maybe 60. I -- probably not that many. I -- I'm sure I knew. I used to, every morning, would have to go down the list and talk about each patient, you know, so -- but I -- maybe 60. 50, 60, somewhere around there.
KAREN BREWSTER: That's a big ward. CHARLES KURTZ: Yeah, I think it was the biggest ward in the hospital. Well, actually, Ward B might have been a little -- Ward B was a little bit different because it was laid out in kind of dormitory style, or barracks style, there were no -- there were no rooms, it was all just a big open space, and everybody had their own -- no privacy. And so there might have been more patients there, I just... KAREN BREWSTER: But in Ward A, as you said, four people to a room?
CHARLES KURTZ: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: They had individual rooms?
CHARLES KURTZ: Right. Section 10:
KAREN BREWSTER: What about the staff? How did the staff get along?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I think they got along pretty well. I -- you know, actually, now that I think about it, we -- we actually did have a murder/suicide involving a -- one of our -- one of the women aides -- no. I think she actually worked in the kitchen maybe. And she was going with another person, he -- he worked there, but he was like a truck driver or a -- or a van driver, something like that. They had -- they apparently had some love affair going, and then a third party came in, in a fit of jealousy. I think she was living there on the grounds and they parted, and then so he -- as I recall it, I think he got a gun and shot her and then killed himself. I guess that means that staff weren't getting along too well, but that was really an unusual situation, I think.
I -- it really didn't have anything to do with Morningside, it just happened to be that these two people had maybe been working there when they had their little jealous episode, so...
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
CHARLES KURTZ: I -- you know, as far as I know, staff got along okay. KAREN BREWSTER: And who did you mostly deal with on your job? In terms of other staff people.
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh. I had -- I had another person working on my ward. And, of course, when I first started working there, I was kind of second in -- you know, I wasn't the ward lead. After awhile I became the ward lead. I don't know when that happened, but a year or two later. And so I would occasionally have -- I would get new people from time to time, so I never -- I never worked steadily with the same people all the time I was there. There were a few people, if -- if -- the ward lead when I first started work there, his name was Mel Terry, a wonderful person, taught me a lot, great guy. Insists -- so good with the patients; really, really good. We had -- one thing I remember, we had a patient who -- I'm not -- I'm not recalling exactly what the circumstances were, but he got -- he had been in a beef with one of his neighbors and he got shot in the side of the head, and it -- it blew out his eyeballs and sinuses. And -- and he -- of course, he wore a mask and was awfully depressed, but Mel used to, every morning, would get him up and take his bandages off and clean out all of the -- you know, this sinus drainage and everything, and I always remember how dedicated he was to these patients. That was kind of a symbol or sort of example of his -- how he treated people. The -- the other person who -- who was the person who was in charge at night was the night nurse. And while I worked there, there were a couple of them there, one of them I didn't care much for, she was kind of -- I won't mention her name. She was kind of young and -- and opinionated, but the -- but the one that I liked, actually, I don't know whether it matters whether I liked them or not, but the one I got along best, her name was -- her last name was Merz, M-E-R-Z. I don't remember her first name. Again, it's how people treated patients were how I kind of judged them. So if they were relaxed and comfortable around patients, then -- then they got -- my judgment was they were okay; if they were nervous and fearful and hostile, then I didn't care for them much, so... Section 11:
KAREN BREWSTER: And what about any of the doctors, did you have any interaction with any of the doctors?
CHARLES KURTZ: Dr. Thompson I mentioned, I -- he's the only one that I really had much contact with. And Dr. Moss, you mentioned Dr. Moss. I don't -- I think I met him once. He seemed -- it seemed like he was a small man. But he must have come there not too long before I left, so... KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, he came in '62.
CHARLES KURTZ: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: And you said you were --
CHARLES KURTZ: I think he took Thompson's place, as I recall. And I might -- maybe I worked there for a year after he was there, now that I think about it, because I don't -- I think I -- no, I probably quit around the end of '62, around the latter part of '62. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, he -- he mentioned that the psychiatrists were on call at night, they would take shifts -- different turns of somebody being available at night.
CHARLES KURTZ: Yeah, maybe, but I don't think they ever -- I don't remember anybody ever physically showing up. They might have been on call by phone, but very -- very rarely would we see a -- KAREN BREWSTER: That was my question, whether there were incidents that happened where you needed a psychiatrist and you called --
CHARLES KURTZ: No. I can remember lots of incidents that we had to handle that didn't require a psychiatrist. I mean, there were mostly -- mostly patients who were -- who were just out of control in some way and needed to be calmed down, needed to be helped. And from time to time, if there was a problem on the -- on wards, then people from other wards would often come to help. And so -- but, you know, if there was any -- if there was a -- usually the solution to an active -- acting-out patient was a shot of whatever it was that they were giving them, and the nurses did that, so... And it didn't happen all that much anyway. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. But there wasn't an acute crisis that you needed the doctor for?
CHARLES KURTZ: There may have been on other wards, there may have been on mine, I just don't recall that that -- it wasn't -- it happened so rarely that it wasn't a big deal. Section 12:
KAREN BREWSTER: Did you have any dealings with the management side of the facility?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, only Nurse McCoy. She's the only person I ever had much --
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
CHARLES KURTZ: -- discussion with. Although my mother was -- often had -- she knew Henry Coe quite well, one of the Coe brothers. But I don't know -- I never had any contact with that side of it. KAREN BREWSTER: So you never met the Coes?
CHARLES KURTZ: I may have, but I don't recall it right now.
KAREN BREWSTER: What did your mother say about Henry, do you remember?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I think Henry was kind of a -- he was the more affable, more -- one of them was quite aloof and never came around, and Henry, I think, was -- was friendly and -- and my mother always had nice things to say -- a little eccentric, I think. KAREN BREWSTER: What does that mean?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I -- I -- let me see how I -- I guess I've never -- I can't think of examples of why that's how -- that's how I remember, or how I remember my mom talking about him, so -- but I can't think of specifics to back up my -- KAREN BREWSTER: Did your mom ever talk about how much the staff and the Coes interacted with each other?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, she didn't talk about it, but I doubt that they ever interacted very much. I don't think they came around very often.
KAREN BREWSTER: So who was running the place?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, you know, there must have been somebody around besides Lynette McCoy --
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
CHARLES KURTZ: -- but I -- KAREN BREWSTER: Because she was a nurse.
CHARLES KURTZ: She was a head nurse. Well, I guess -- you know, I'm not exactly sure what their titles were, but she may have -- she may have been in the -- well, I won't even speculate. I don't remember the titles. But I -- she certainly was in -- she was in charge of me, I know that. She -- she -- she was -- supervised all the medical staff except for the physicians. KAREN BREWSTER: So what was she like to work for?
CHARLES KURTZ: Great. Very direct, very -- you knew exactly where you stood and you knew what her expectations were.
KAREN BREWSTER: Some people might find her difficult to work with --
CHARLES KURTZ: Maybe.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- for the same reasons.
CHARLES KURTZ: Maybe. KAREN BREWSTER: With any of the Alaska patients, do you remember, did they all speak English?
CHARLES KURTZ: No. There were -- there were Native Alaskans. So no, a lot of them didn't speak English.
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you know, how did that work? Or how would you have to communicate with them? CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I just -- I don't remember it ever being a particular problem. Again, I -- I didn't have -- have eight hours worth of patient contact, usually, so -- but I don't recall ever -- there ever being an issue. Well, of course, it was -- most of the -- most of the things, they were routine, and once people got into the routine, I guess they knew what -- you know, communications probably weren't -- detailed communications probably weren't all that important. But I -- I think I mentioned earlier when I was working in the kitchen, our scullery worker was -- well, I referred to him as an Eskimo, he may have been an Aleut or -- I mean, I'm not sure what he -- and he certainly didn't speak English, but I -- I never thought -- I never thought of that as being an issue, actually. It just didn't seem to be a -- and I think on my ward, I would say maybe 10 percent of the people on my ward probably didn't speak English. I had one patient who was Chinese, for example, he didn't speak English. He didn't speak at all, as far as I could remember. I had one person that I remember who spoke Russian. And then some Native Alaskans who spoke whatever -- whatever their Native language was. Section 13:
KAREN BREWSTER: So when you were working there, you said there were still Alaska patients coming to Morningside?
CHARLES KURTZ: Uh-hum. Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you remember how they adjusted to this? I mean, it's a big change if you were coming from the village. CHARLES KURTZ: Well, of course, some of them didn't come from a village, some of them came from the city. I told you about one person who came and went a few times, I think he was from Anchorage, he was a businessman in Anchorage.
I remember another person who was a school teacher who -- also from the big city, he was there, just -- liked him a lot, he must -- he was only there for a few months. But I -- I -- I don't think most of these people came from villages, I think there were a lot of them from more populous areas. But again, I -- I just don't know the detail about so many of them.
KAREN BREWSTER: So you weren't told their backgrounds, really? CHARLES KURTZ: I -- many of them I -- I was always very interested in patients, and I would often read their charts and try to figure out, you know, how to -- how best to deal with them. So I -- I did, I did know a lot about them individually because their charts were usually pretty complete, but I just don't remember it.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
CHARLES KURTZ: I just don't remember it.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right. And while you worked there, did patients -- did any patients die? You mentioned the insulin shock therapy woman. CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, yeah, they -- sure. Yeah. There were a lot -- particularly on these -- these older developmentally disabled people, I think deaths were not uncommon on those wards. A lot of those people were really getting up in years, had been there for a long time. But I -- again, that's just one thing I don't have a personal remembrance of. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I'm wondering what -- how the death was handled and what happened to the bodies and things like that.
CHARLES KURTZ: I don't know.
KAREN BREWSTER: You don't know that?
CHARLES KURTZ: I don't know.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. Do you know how other patients handled that if somebody died? Was it an issue for other patients?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, again, I guess I'm not -- other than the one death that I mentioned, I guess that's the only one I really remember specifically, so I can't -- I really can't say because -- KAREN BREWSTER: This may have been -- this was before your time, but your mother would have been working at Morningside, it was investigated --
CHARLES KURTZ: Yes.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- by Congress.
CHARLES KURTZ: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: Are you aware of that?
CHARLES KURTZ: Yes.
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you have any comments?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I -- my recollection is a little bit vague, but I -- what I understand was that it was -- there were some allegations that the Coes were using the -- they were using money for their own personal use, over and above whatever their -- whatever their contract allowed them to take. As far as I know, nothing came of that. I -- I always thought it was a kind of a political investigation, and I don't know, you may know more about the history of the -- you obviously do know more about the history of the Alaskan mental health system than I do, but at the time, I -- it seemed like it maybe was a power issue from people in the State of Alaska wanting to have their own mental health system and wanting to reject this idea of sending people down here. I mean, you may know more about that than I do.
KAREN BREWSTER: That, I don't know.
CHARLES KURTZ: But that was my impression, that it was more of a political stunt than -- than a valid issue because I don't remember any -- you know, I don't remember them ever finding out -- finding that these folks were defrauding Alaska. KAREN BREWSTER: And did your mother say -- because your mother was working there at the time.
CHARLES KURTZ: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: Did she feel like there were deficiencies worth investigating?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I don't think there was a question of deficiencies, at least not that I know of. Nobody was questioning whether -- whether the money was going to the patients or not. At least not that I know of. And I don't recall anybody ever thinking that that was the case, anybody who worked there. So I don't know. I always thought the issue was not that they were depriving patients of anything but that they were just taking more than they were -- than was their -- than their contract called for. KAREN BREWSTER: Like overcharging or something like that?
CHARLES KURTZ: Something like that. But I don't recall anybody say -- any issue about -- about funds being misdirected away from patient care. I -- I don't think that was the case. It may have been, but not in my memory.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. I don't know. Section 14:
KAREN BREWSTER: So Morningside was three years of your early adult life. How old were you when you were the aide, the night shift aide?
CHARLES KURTZ: I -- let's see. I must have been 23, 24, something like that. KAREN BREWSTER: And were the other aides comparable ages?
CHARLES KURTZ: Mostly not. Mostly older. There were -- I -- I guess I probably was the youngest person working there. I actually had a college mate of mine, a friend who I got a job out there, he's my same age, he worked there for about six months as the relief night watch person, so he's the only other person I -- who I know who has actual personal knowledge of the place out there. KAREN BREWSTER: Who is still around.
CHARLES KURTZ: Who is still around.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. So what did you go on to do after Morningside?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I went to work for -- as a public welfare caseworker after I graduated from college in '63 or '4, and was in social work for many years, was the manager of Child Protective Services here in Multnomah County for about four years. And after I got burned out on -- on that, a very thankless job, I went to work for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission where I retired.
KAREN BREWSTER: What's the Oregon Liquor Control Commission?
CHARLES KURTZ: It -- in Oregon, Oregon is -- the State of Oregon is the liquor wholesaler in the state. They -- they have their own warehouse, they have contract liquor stores. That's one side. The other thing they do is they issue licenses to people who sell alcohol, they enforce liquor laws. That was my side of the job, issuing liquor licenses, enforcing liquor laws.
KAREN BREWSTER: Big difference from social work to -- CHARLES KURTZ: A big difference. A big difference. Social work is a job that wears on one after awhile. So -- it did me anyway.
KAREN BREWSTER: And you retired when?
CHARLES KURTZ: 19 -- 8 -- 1995.
Section 1: The roles of the nurses, psychiatrists and medical doctors at Morningside Hospital and how the facility operated.
Section 2: The management of Morningside Hospital, it going into debt, and his role in developing a speaker series to drum up local interest in and support for sending patients to Morningside.
Section 3: Henry Coe's management of Morningside Hospital, his interest in medicine and patient care, and the socializing that occurred amongst the staff members.
Section 4: The relationship staff had with patients, stories about particular patients, and how well Alaskan patients adjusted to life in an institution and the transition from their remote village.
Section 5: What happens when a patient dies.
Section 6: Assessment of the quality of patient care at Morningside Hospital, potential for patient abuse, and lack of knowledge of Congressional investigation of the facility.
Section 7: His work after leaving Morningside Hospital in 1966, the impact his work at Morningside on the rest of his career, and the need for objectivity, focus and balance when practicing psychiatry.
Section 8: Successful use of medication to treat patients, his family's visits to Morningside, and celebrations with patients like 4th of July and Christmas.
Section 9: His work as acting head of psychiatry at Morningside and difference in treating patients at an open facility versus a lock-down one for criminals.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. We should be back on. And so we were just talking about a couple of the nurses.
DR. ROY MOSS: Uh-hum.
KAREN BREWSTER: And so that made me think about the relationships between, you know, the staff, how the nurses and the doctors got along and how people got along with the patients, how the patients got along with each other, and how all that kind of worked. DR. ROY MOSS: Well, the -- the nurses wore nurses uniforms in those days, and they acted like nurses. They gave medications and took nursing, as I said, a nurturing kind of approach. They weren't therapists, per se, but a lot of them had a calming influence if they -- they got to know the patients and they, I think, had a calming influence on some of them. And sometimes they didn't, but there weren't that many, I can't remember exactly how many. Of course, they rotated, too. I don't think they had nurses on duty on all the shifts. I think just mostly in the day. KAREN BREWSTER: What about doctors? Was there a doctor on call overnight?
DR. ROY MOSS: Every night, yeah, there would have to be somebody on call. And we stayed there in a little room. They also had a -- a medical doctor on call for medical situations. Charles Martinson was the one that I remember. And they did call us during the night for sedation orders or just to report something. Let's see. I should mention another person that I didn't mention, it's Dorothy Mickelson, spelled the same way as Phil Mickelson. She was the business manager and she had a very important role in -- in the business management, and I don't know if she has any family, but -- KAREN BREWSTER: Can you talk a little bit about the management? Do you know how that worked, what she did?
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, they kept books, of course, you know, income and -- and I don't know how that -- what they -- whether they had a certain amount for each individual patient, or I think that was the case, plus probably additional money for equipment and material and I don't know about the farm. I think maybe that -- well, that was part of the operation, and I -- but I don't know if the State of Alaska was sponsoring that or not. Although as I said, initially for some long time, they provided much of the food.
KAREN BREWSTER: Did they ever sell any of the crops or the meat?
DR. ROY MOSS: I don't know. It must have ultimately got disposed of somehow. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, but while they were growing them for themselves, did they ever --
DR. ROY MOSS: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- have extra and they sold it off or --
DR. ROY MOSS: I don't think so, but I don't know.
KAREN BREWSTER: It was just being used on the premises?
DR. ROY MOSS: I don't know. Yeah. I don't know. I'm not sure exactly what they grew, either, but it was the usual, I think. Of course, this is Oregon, you know, they don't have great weather, but they had cabbage and broccoli and cauliflower and that type, onions and potatoes. Section 2:
KAREN BREWSTER: So how was the place managed?
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, they -- I presume, I don't know. I -- I presume that they got money from Alaska, and they spent it around on the various things. They had to account for it somehow.
KAREN BREWSTER: Did it seem well managed, or in terms of how it was operating? DR. ROY MOSS: Well, when it was under the Alaska, they always had a profit, I think. And I -- I don't understand how that worked, or maybe they didn't have a profit, but they used all the money. They didn't send any back, I don't believe. As far as afterwards, they -- they didn't make a profit, and they were going into debt. I mean, that's why they ultimately had to sell it, that it was not profitable. We didn't get enough patients from the local community, and still had to maintain the staff, so at some point, it was going into deficit, and sooner or later, they had to sell it. And I don't know about that, the sale, whatever.
Henry Coe was -- well, Wayne basically was kind of out of it, and Henry was directing it with Dorothy Mickelson's assistance, and then he divorced his wife, and there was a woman that worked there, she was sort of a personnel or publicity thing, Lori -- I think Bogan (phonetic) was her name at the time, and he married her. And then he -- he died at some point, and I -- I can't tell you exactly when that was, whether it was after the place -- I think it was after it closed, I heard about it. So I don't know what happened, but Henry had a family, and I can't remember his wife's name, but they were fairly prominent in Portland, and he had several children. KAREN BREWSTER: What did the Coes do to try and keep the place going or keep it open, or did they do anything?
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, they tried to get good people, and we got Charles Jones and Wendell Hutchens, and we brought speakers in. I was in charge of that. I brought some speakers in to -- famous people to speak. We had a regular -- not a regular, but we -- several times a year we brought in speakers. They had an auditorium, and we got people interested in -- and I may have had dinners with the local psychiatrist, get them to want to send people, but that didn't pan out too well. KAREN BREWSTER: So who were some of the speakers?
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, I remember it was Hans Selye from -- oh, the famous author of the -- oh, I can't remember the name of it -- stress. He -- he originally developed that stress -- the stress -- the general adaptation syndrome, so-called, in which had to do with -- with the development of cortisone, basically, which is a very important medication. And we had a psychiatrist who -- Maurine Neuberger was the Governor of Oregon, and her husband was a psychiatrist. Her second husband. She was married to Richard Neuberger who was the Senator before she -- she took his place basically in the Senate. And she married a psychiatrist from the East; I can't remember his name, though. That was a couple of them. KAREN BREWSTER: So the speaker series was on topics related to psychiatry?
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, general interest, in a way. This Selye, for instance, was Canadian, we brought him down from Montreal.
KAREN BREWSTER: So who was the audience you were trying to attract? DR. ROY MOSS: People interested in medicine and -- and in psychiatry.
KAREN BREWSTER: And people in the community?
DR. ROY MOSS: Yeah. And that's what the Lori was trying to do was to round up local interest in sending patients to Morningside. Section 3:
KAREN BREWSTER: So you had mentioned that you socialized with Henry Coe. We haven't talked about what he was like, and -- as a person, and his role in this operation.
DR. ROY MOSS: Henry was really interested in the patient's welfare. He -- he took it very seriously. He tried to find out everything he could about the treatment, how it worked, if it worked. And much in favor of liberal care, of using very little restraint and various other therapies. I'd say he was quite active in -- he sat in on a lot of our meetings, and I -- I guess that -- well, I -- I think it was -- wasn't privileged information, that I know of. Socially, he drank a lot, and so did Wayne. And that I saw personally, but it didn't seem to affect him was the interesting thing. You couldn't tell if he had had anything to drink. KAREN BREWSTER: Did you see it affect anything on the job?
DR. ROY MOSS: No. Not that was surprising. He seemed perfectly rational. I'm not going to say anymore.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
DR. ROY MOSS: But I didn't -- I didn't seem to.
Now, with Wayne, it was a little different, because he wasn't really active in the management. They were business people, primarily, but Henry was more interested in -- in the medical part than Wayne. I think Wayne was pretty strictly a businessman. He wanted to see that the -- they ran it profitably, and so forth. And I guess he did a good job at that. Henry, I think, wanted to be a doctor, but he -- I don't know the reasons for that. And I can't remember where he went to school. I think he went to an Ivy League school of some kind, but I'm not sure.
KAREN BREWSTER: Was there a lot of socializing with the staff and --
DR. ROY MOSS: Some. Well, some people became quite good friends. It was a -- kind of a close-knit group there. Like, I was good friends with Bob Furchner, we used to play golf together, Morris Bowerman, and Leola (phonetic). KAREN BREWSTER: Did you all live on the grounds?
DR. ROY MOSS: No. No, only Bill Teutsch lived there, and that was not for too long because he was sick and he couldn't walk very far. And they accommodated him on that score. No, the rest of us only stayed when we were on call. Section 4:
KAREN BREWSTER: And then how did the patients get along with each other and with you as staff?
DR. ROY MOSS: I'd say pretty well, really. There wasn't a lot of friction particularly. Some of them would rant a bit, but it didn't seem to make a huge difference. By "rant," there was one guy in particular, he -- he would sort of be around, and I'm not sure what his duties were, but he -- some of -- most of what his speech was unintelligible, but he kept talking about the White House. And apparently what he was referring to was the administration building, which was a white house, but he had that confused with The White House, and somehow in his thinking, they were connected, so he was always talking about you're doing things at the White House, I know about it, and whatever. That would be like ranting. And we had an interesting epi -- I think I mentioned that, James, this one man who was a -- he had killed somebody, apparently, over some kind of political disagreement. I don't know the exact detail, but he would -- he was quite paranoid, he would always talk about the government doing this and doing that and so forth, and he was very attuned to the television and things that were going on. And the day that Kennedy got shot, he dropped dead, right there on the spot in the unit. And I didn't see him fall, but I had to go and check him, that was what they said.
KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.
DR. ROY MOSS: Strange occurrence. He was really wrapped up in that political, the... KAREN BREWSTER: So it's -- how much were you around the Alaska patients, and how much can you talk about how they seemed to adjust to being there?
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, they -- this was like home to them, it seemed to me. I was around them for a certain amount of the day. I would, like I say, do rounds, and then I would talk to some of them and especially ones having some problems. We also used hypnosis, by the way.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. DR. ROY MOSS: We were -- several of us were interested in hypnosis, and we tried various things, mostly to calm them down. We had a -- an interesting thing was Bob Furchner -- well, both of us, actually, we had a hypnosis group, we took a bunch of patients and had them go to one of the empty units, this was after some of the people had gone, but we used some of the chronic patients, as well as some of the private patients and had them go in these empty bunks, which had mattresses, and do a group hypnosis. And they were instructed after they were done to say it's a nice morning or good morning or something like that. And they mostly did that, even the paranoids. Whether it helped or not, it -- we don't know, but we ran that for a while. So we tried various things of that sort, which I think helped some people, at least to calm them down. We weren't, you know, that close to them. We didn't do a lot of individual work with them, but a few that were selected. But they seemed to be pretty content, for the most part, just going about their business, or -- or non-business.
KAREN BREWSTER: And as you say, when you were there, you weren't getting new Alaska patients.
DR. ROY MOSS: No. KAREN BREWSTER: You were working with the ones that had been there for --
DR. ROY MOSS: Oh, a long time, and they were pretty well adjusted to the situation. I think they were institutionalized. It would be hard for them to make their way outside. I think they'd grown accustomed to that. And it wasn't too bad in a lot of ways. They had quite a bit of freedom, if they were well behaved, to be on the grounds, and to even some to go to town. And there wasn't a Mall 205, of course. That superseded it. But -- KAREN BREWSTER: For some of them, they came from very remote, small villages --
DR. ROY MOSS: Oh, yes.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- with very different lifestyles.
DR. ROY MOSS: Oh, yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: I'm wondering how they made that transition.
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, they were mentally ill, so I don't know. I remember this one fellow, and he was -- he was a difficult management patient, we spent a lot of time trying to help him, but he -- he was up from way up, I don't know if it was Barrow or Nome, I think, somewhere out there, he was -- and he -- he went out in a -- in a canoe out in the bay, or whatever it was there, and he just sat there in a catatonic state until somebody finally realized he was there. They brought him back, he was pretty frozen, and he was in this catatonic state. And he became sort of a -- everybody's, how do you say that, pet -- not a pet -- yeah. Something like that. Everyone tried to help him out. But he was pretty refractory to treatment. He stayed pretty catatonic. He did a little better after he wasn't aggressive, after he was on medication. He had trouble with the medication, side effects and such. So some of them from the remote communities had a harder time, I think. They didn't want to be there. But so many mental patients say they don't want to be there that -- in their own community, and then you open the door and let them go out, they don't know what to do. Like we've seen that here in the homeless people, they -- would he be adjusted to get in the canoe and just go out there? Well, that's what some of the old people used to do. Or maybe they still do, I don't know.
KAREN BREWSTER: I don't know. Section 5:
KAREN BREWSTER: I was wondering, while you worked there, did patients die while you were there?
DR. ROY MOSS: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: And how was that handled and what happened?
DR. ROY MOSS: Oh, I don't know. If we were there, I told you this one guy, he just dropped dead and couldn't resuscitate him. Called the regular physician and tried to do CPR, it was too late. I don't know what -- what they did with him. KAREN BREWSTER: You don't know what happened?
DR. ROY MOSS: Went to -- went to the mortuary.
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you know, yeah, what they did with the bodies?
DR. ROY MOSS: Huh-uh. No, I don't.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, you mentioned to me earlier that you think they used local mortuary services?
DR. ROY MOSS: That's what I understood, that they were sending them to the local mortuary. I don't know how many we had of deaths during that time. This was one of the rather startling ones, but there were some others that just died of intercurrent illnesses. We had a medical unit and some of them very ill in there. And sometimes they send them into -- into a private regular hospital, and they may have died there. So I -- I can't remember. KAREN BREWSTER: Did relationships ever develop between male and female patients?
DR. ROY MOSS: Yeah, I think so. I can't tell you the extent of it. They were not in the same -- it wasn't -- they had separate units, male and female. I think they discouraged that, but there -- there was, what do you call it, fraternizing, there was that to some extent, but they tried to discourage other. I'm sure that some went on surreptitiously, but I don't know of any particular instances. Did we have any pregnancies there? I -- I can't remember. Not that I can remember. KAREN BREWSTER: And you -- you mentioned that your first impression of Morningside, you know, is this farm, and compared to the Oregon State Hospital. Was Morningside typical as an institution, or it was an unusual -- DR. ROY MOSS: It was different, really. Because of its -- the way it was developed and -- and run, it was not like the -- the usual state facility. At least that's my -- and I've been to several different ones, and so I had a chance to compare. Section 6:
KAREN BREWSTER: So did you have an assessment of Morningside in terms of the quality of care and what it was like?
DR. ROY MOSS: I'd say it was adequate. I -- I don't think that -- now, you mentioned that there was some kind of a lawsuit, and I don't know what that was about. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, the lawsuit was later. That was for the State of Alaska and --
DR. ROY MOSS: Having to do with the --
KAREN BREWSTER: With the -- it was the Mental Health Trust. When the state became a state in 1950 -- no, it was 1956, Mental Health Trust Enabling Act, the state was given authority, and they were sued over mismanagement of that program. DR. ROY MOSS: Of the -- of the funds or of the program?
KAREN BREWSTER: Of the funds.
DR. ROY MOSS: As far as the patients, there may -- when I -- in the earlier days, there may have been some not so good treatment. I didn't see much of that when I was there. I say that because I -- I don't -- well, stories that some of the older -- like the psychiatric aides or technicians, whatever you called them, they would tell stories sometimes that -- whether they are true or not, I don't know, of some abuses. But you always have to watch that in a situation like that. And I believe they did when I was there. So I would say it was at least average or better.
KAREN BREWSTER: Can you give examples of what kind of abuses those might have been? DR. ROY MOSS: Well, of course, you've heard -- well, they've had movies and stuff like that of almost a torture-type things, or snake pits and I think there were -- some of the things were used commonly in some of these institutions, like cold waters hosing, or ice bath, restraints of various kinds, physical abuse of various kinds and striking people. I mean, these are things that you don't want to see happen, but they may have. Restraints or seclusion unnecessarily long or whatever. Deprivation of food. I -- I don't know. I don't know what all. I didn't -- we didn't -- I didn't see that happening. I think that McCoy had a lot to do with that, too. If she found out anything, they were out of there. KAREN BREWSTER: And so during the years you were there, did you feel there were abuses?
DR. ROY MOSS: None that I could point to. I mean, as to how I -- how it would be done differently. Most of the aides there were sensitive, seemed to be. That's all I can tell you. KAREN BREWSTER: I know in -- I think it was in the 1950s, there was some congressional investigations of Morningside. Did you ever hear anything about that going on while you were there?
DR. ROY MOSS: No.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. So it was before your time.
DR. ROY MOSS: Right. Of abuses you mean?
KAREN BREWSTER: It was just an investigation of the facility, from various aspects. DR. ROY MOSS: Well, probably it had to do with abuses. Yeah, I wasn't too familiar with that.
KAREN BREWSTER: Whatever reasons institutions get investigated by Congress.
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, mostly it comes about by complaints. See, I later went to work at -- well, I worked in private practice after Morningside, and I worked at a mental health clinic. Mostly I've worked at mental health clinics, and I did have a period of eight or so years of private practice, and then I ended up down here at Atascadero State Hospital, and which I think there were a lot of abuses. And prior to my getting there. And some continued after that. But they were reported to by patients, and then it was -- and they -- they summoned the Justice Department there, and basically, having to do with various abuses that were occurring. But that's another story, but that's how it comes about, I think, or families. But how would families know? I don't know about visitors coming from Alaska. I think there may have been some, but I can't tell you. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, that was a question I had, when you mentioned families, people came to visit --
DR. ROY MOSS: Yeah, I -- I really don't know. I think some did. I -- I just don't know that for sure. I would guess that sometimes they did. Section 7:
KAREN BREWSTER: So you just kind of did a review of what you did after Morningside, you went into private practice?
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, I went to work at a mental health clinic, and then private practice, and then Atascadero. And then after I retired from Atascadero in '94, and I continued to do locum tenens, going to various places in temporary jobs, and then -- then I worked for -- well, it turned out to be seven or eight years, at Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Santa Barbara County Mental Health in Santa Maria. That's what I'm doing here. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-hum. And so you left Morningside in what year?
DR. ROY MOSS: '66, I think, or late '65 or '66.
KAREN BREWSTER: And why you did you decide to leave the facility?
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, I could see that it wasn't -- it wasn't going to make it. And I tried something different. So I tried various different things. I mean, I checked out various things and -- and it didn't make it, as it turned out. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. So having spent those years there, what has that kind of meant to you personally, professionally, to have had that Morningside experience?
DR. ROY MOSS: It was interesting, I have to say. I learned a lot there, and I don't have any negative feelings about the experience. I was treated well, and all in all, I thought -- I thought they did a pretty good job, you know, of running a hospital, chronic-type hospital. As far as acute hospital, that was another story. Acute hospitals have other agendas, i.e., making money, and so... So yeah, it was -- it was an okay introduction to it. I think the -- the Coe -- Henry may have had some, perhaps, exaggerated idea that it could become like one of the well-known psychiatric hospitals in the East, which I guess are still going. Whitney, isn't that one of them? Sheppard and Enoch Pratt. There's several of those. Hartford Retreat where the rich people go. But it never -- never came -- came close. KAREN BREWSTER: Your years at Morningside, it was early on in your career.
DR. ROY MOSS: Pretty much.
KAREN BREWSTER: Were there things you learned there --
DR. ROY MOSS: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- that have been valuable?
DR. ROY MOSS: I think so. Do you want me to tell you what --
KAREN BREWSTER: Such as?
DR. ROY MOSS: -- what I've learned? Well, it's hard to say what you have -- what you've learned. You learn how to work with a team, how to get along with difficult people, and -- and sometimes easier ones. A lot of what medical practice in general is being able to have an objective attitude about what you're doing, you know, and people in -- when you think about medicine in general, that people wonder how can you, you know, cut on somebody or remove some noxious wound or -- or deal with some difficult condition or patients dying and accidents and all that sort of thing, how can you manage that. You learn to do that because if you don't, you're in big trouble, and some people get in big trouble.
So you -- you find ways of maintaining your focus in these difficult situations. And being with the mentally ill, you might say, is not a lot of fun, especially the more serious ones, you have to have a focus as to what you're doing or what you're trying to do rather than what you see on television which becomes more dramatic and sometimes extremely maudlin type of thing. So that's -- that's a lot of what it is. And in medicine in general, and psychiatry has its own particular brand of it, where you can maintain equanimity and to be objective and helpful to people that you may not like, that you never could like, and you wouldn't want to live next door to them. Certainly they are not all that way, but the seriously mentally ill can be difficult to work with, and sometimes can be very rewarding, too. So you look at that. But the whole object is to -- to do the best job that you know how under the circumstances. And that's -- that's how I think people make it in medicine and do some stuff that other people can't imagine. Section 8:
KAREN BREWSTER: And were there any patients that you worked with that you felt like you were successful with? And I don't know if you can say "cured," I don't know if that's an appropriate statement.
DR. ROY MOSS: Oh, yeah. There had to be some. Well, first of all, the advent of the drug therapy was -- was monumental. I mean, prior to Thorazine, there were people that got better, and some just got better on their own and without much help. And some of the treatment -- some of the conditions wax and wane, or they go into remission, or whatever, but with the drugs, there was some real improvement. KAREN BREWSTER: And so in Morningside, were there patients that --
DR. ROY MOSS: Yeah, we had --
KAREN BREWSTER: And could you --
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, they had already been on the medication, but we put more of them on it that hadn't and some of the newer medications, and saw some pretty good improvement. I'm not sure about dramatic improvement. Are we talking about the people from Alaska or the private? I mean, we had some good --
KAREN BREWSTER: Either one.
DR. ROY MOSS: -- private results with the patients, and --
KAREN BREWSTER: Was it -- were there types of conditions different with the Alaska patients than the local ones? Is that why there's a difference?
DR. ROY MOSS: They were more serious. KAREN BREWSTER: The Alaska patients were more serious?
DR. ROY MOSS: Oh, yeah, right. Although we had some difficult private patients, too.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I was wondering if any of your Alaska patients you had success with and you got to see them go home. DR. ROY MOSS: I can't -- I can't remember -- I can't -- people that had not already been -- see, they had been treated for a long time, mostly.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
DR. ROY MOSS: That I particularly did something that got them? I can't think of that. And I know that a lot of them did seem to do better, but whether they went home, you know. KAREN BREWSTER: So when they were --
DR. ROY MOSS: Other than being transferred back home.
KAREN BREWSTER: And they were being transferred because of the bureaucracy.
DR. ROY MOSS: Right.
KAREN BREWSTER: Not necessarily because of their condition.
DR. ROY MOSS: So I don't know what the difference was.
KAREN BREWSTER: All right. One last question, which I didn't ask earlier, when you mentioned that you were married, you had a family at the time when you worked there?
DR. ROY MOSS: Uh-hum.
KAREN BREWSTER: And --
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, Paul, my -- he's my number three son is called, he was the one who called you.
KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-hum.
DR. ROY MOSS: Or not called.
KAREN BREWSTER: Who e-mailed us. DR. ROY MOSS: E-mailed you, right. And he has a memory of it. And the other -- the older ones remember it, but they didn't seem to have any particular remembrance. We used to have a Fourth of July picnic there, they had a great time there. They had a lot of events and things that were -- and the patients participated in that, too. They liked that a lot. And I don't know what all. They used to go there and come there, some -- some reason or another. But it made more of an impression on him, I think, than -- KAREN BREWSTER: But it wasn't a lot of interaction with your family in the farm and the facility or anything?
DR. ROY MOSS: No. No.
KAREN BREWSTER: What about you mentioned Fourth of July, which makes me think Christmas. Was that an event celebrated?
DR. ROY MOSS: Oh, yeah. But there, as you may know, a lot of people have issues around Christmas, especially when you're in a remote place away from everybody. So we had more difficulties around that time. People wanted to -- whether they really had anything better back there or not. I mean, they were looking for the elusive wonderful life situation. But yeah, they -- they would -- there would be a lot more depression, anxiety, and so forth around Christmas. And so we had events and so forth that would cheer them up.
I don't remember a Christmas party for the staff, but I'm sure there must have been some. Somehow it doesn't register, for my family anyway. But the patients, yeah, they experienced the separation period and so forth. Section 9:
KAREN BREWSTER: And now who did you report -- what doctor did you report to? Who was your supervisor?
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, Alan Roberts for the most part, as I said.
KAREN BREWSTER: And then --
DR. ROY MOSS: And then I was briefly in charge myself.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. Tell me about that.
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, everyone else was gone. That's how you become in charge.
KAREN BREWSTER: Or you miss a meeting and they volunteer you is often how it happens.
DR. ROY MOSS: Yeah, pretty much.
KAREN BREWSTER: What were you -- DR. ROY MOSS: Roberts left, and then there was a hiatus, and then until Charlie Jones and Hutchens came in.
KAREN BREWSTER: So what does it mean to be in charge? What did -- what were your responsibilities?
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, that's -- it was nothing more than usual, just trying to see that everybody got adequate treatment, you know, as best you can. You check with the various staff members and -- and I still had patients. I -- I was just acting. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. But whether you were acting or whoever was really in charge, did they assign patients to the different doctors, or --
DR. ROY MOSS: No, we did that as a group, really.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. DR. ROY MOSS: You know, we didn't always do it in rotation. If somebody seemed like a better candidate for somebody else, then they would take them, and -- and I was doing an adolescent group at the time. And so I would see the teenagers.
KAREN BREWSTER: That would be a challenge. DR. ROY MOSS: It was a fun thing, but it -- it failed, ultimately, because of you got some destructive youngsters, and they -- they caused a little ruckus, and we didn't really have a secure place to put them, so we had to close it up for -- for a time, and it never got going again. Some of them needed a more secure setting and more staff intervention. But I had some pretty good success with it for a while.
KAREN BREWSTER: So the buildings and rooms and everything in Morningside, they weren't locked, there wasn't a lockdown type setting? DR. ROY MOSS: Correct. I think that some of the units were locked at night. In fact, maybe they all were, but by and large, it could be locked, you know, if some -- there was some reason. Try to keep it as open as possible. KAREN BREWSTER: Is there a theory behind that having it as an open facility where it's --
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, it's more like a normal life, you know, where you don't feel like you're incarcerated. That's more like the -- you might say you go back to Pennsylvania School of Mental Health Treatment, that was in vogue at one time, a long time ago, Quakers, they were the ones who kind of favored that sort of thing, keeping people busy and in a family like sort of setting. And that worked okay, too. Again, for the really difficult ones, it didn't. KAREN BREWSTER: And you'd say your experience at Atascadero would be sort of the opposite, right? Full lockdown?
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, they are all criminals is what it is. They -- that's -- that's the bottom line there. And well, it's true that a lot of the Alaskan -- or some of the Alaskans were under criminal commitment, but at Atascadero they all were under criminal jurisdiction, so they've all committed crimes. And some of them more serious than others. And some of them a lot more difficult to manage. Primarily because the criminality, rather than the mental illness, the mental illness was mostly manageable. The -- it's a whole different story. Did you say you didn't know about -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, Atascadero was a whole another subject, and I don't want to record it on here, so --
DR. ROY MOSS: Right, but you said you never heard of it.
KAREN BREWSTER: I didn't hear about it, no.
DR. ROY MOSS: Have you heard about it now?
KAREN BREWSTER: Well --
DR. ROY MOSS: Except from me.
KAREN BREWSTER: No. And I know we've spent a lot of time talking, so that would be the end of my questions unless you have something else about --
DR. ROY MOSS: No.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- Morningside that you had that I hadn't asked you about. DR. ROY MOSS: Well, I -- I gave you most of those names. There's some of them I'd connect with some of the people, and I don't know how they would feel about it, but I think it's a good idea that you're doing this, and I'd like to see the results, and as they come in, and see what kind of picture you can develop.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, appreciate your input and experiences. It's one we haven't had other people talk about, so I appreciate your sharing it.
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, I hope it helps somebody.
KAREN BREWSTER: Thank you.
DR. ROY MOSS: Okay.
Dr. Roy Moss was interviewed by Karen Brewster on October 27, 2010 at the historic Santa Maria Inn in Santa Maria, California. Dr. Moss was a psychiatrist at Morningside Hospital in Portland, Oregon from 1962-1966. In this interview, he talks about working at Morningside and other people he worked with, the types of treatments used, the Coe family who operated the facility, and patients being returned to Alaska. He also offers his thoughts on the quality of care provided at Morningside.
Part two of this interview.
Click to section:
Section 1: His personal background, education and work at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem, Oregon.
Section 2: How he got interested in psychiatry and going to work at Morningside Hospital in 1962.
Section 3: The Native art on display in Wayne Coe's office, trips made to Alaska by Morningside Hospital staff, and by 1966 all Alaska patients being returned to the state.
Section 4: Types of patients at Morningside Hospital, what life was like for them there, and the returning of Alaskan patients.
Section 5: Types of conditions patients at Morningside Hospital had, and the hospital units that existed for treating them.
Section 6: The age groups of the patients at Morningside Hospital, the treatment methods, and some of the other staff members he worked with.
Section 7: The lack of other psychiatric hospitals other than Morningside Hospital, and the various types of treatments used for patients at Morningside Hospital.
Section 8: Difficulties with the community therapy approach to treating patients at Morningside Hospital, the system of patient care, and the relationship between the doctors and the patients.
Section 9: Assessment of the quality of patient care at Morningside Hospital.
Section 10: Ways people were admitted to Morningside Hospital, and nurses who worked there.
KAREN BREWSTER: All right. Today is October 27th, 2010, and this is Karen Brewster. And I'm here in Santa Maria, California, with Dr. Roy Moss for the Mental Health Trust Project.
Thank you, Dr. Moss, for taking the time to visit with me.
DR. ROY MOSS: Okay.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. And so why don't we just get started first with tell me a little bit about yourself, you know, where and when you were born.
DR. ROY MOSS: Oh, really?
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. DR. ROY MOSS: All of that? Well, I came a long way. I was born in Chicago, Illinois, and I went to school there. And I went to the University of Chicago for three years, and then I had a year at University of Iowa. And I did my medical school at the University of Illinois Medical School in Chicago, which is now named something else. It was Abraham Lincoln School for some time; I'm not sure what it's called now.
Graduated in 1956. And I moved away from Chicago and never did go back to live, that is; went back to visit. And I moved to Spokane, Washington, and took an internship there, a regular rotating internship, which they don't do these days. In other words, surgery, obstetrics, these things.
And then I took a residency at the Oregon State Hospital when Maxwell Jones was there. Now, that may not mean anything to you, but he was quite famous at the time. KAREN BREWSTER: And what was he famous for?
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, he set up a -- a treatment center in London for disabled people, and the goal was to get them off of disability. And he used what was called the therapeutic community. Now, he coined that term.
(Knock on door. Tape paused momentarily.) KAREN BREWSTER: We are back on. You had gone to Salem -- you were telling me about Maxwell Jones.
DR. ROY MOSS: Salem, Oregon. Maxwell Jones was there.
KAREN BREWSTER: You were talking about his --
DR. ROY MOSS: The therapeutic community, he coined that term in his book. And that became quite a well-used form of therapy in various settings. It hadn't been tested really in a setting for psychotic individuals, and there was some problems with that. KAREN BREWSTER: Can you explain what the therapeutic community is all about?
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, what -- what he -- what he did was he had everybody would come into a program, and they had to attempt to be as honest as they could, and they would meet every morning and sit in a large circle, everybody in the whole unit, which could be up to 50 people. And then they were asked to say what was on their mind, and be forthright and frank, and so forth.
And it worked pretty well in the rehab center because they were not psychotic individuals, and they confronted each other and they worked out a lot of problems. And everything had to be worked out there. No private sessions, no secrets, no individual counseling and so forth. Everything had to be worked out in the -- in the community. So they knew that, and -- and there were no secrets from anybody. And the staff would have to report everything that they'd seen and heard and so forth. Anyhow. So he brought that to the United States, which was interesting, Salem, Oregon, and he brought one of his associates who was a psychoanalyst named Jetmalani, that's spelled J-E-T-M-A-L-A-N-I. That's his last name, I think, and Narain was his first name. Anyway, the reason I mentioned him is because his son, Ajit Jetmalani, is a psychiatrist now in Portland. So -- and Ajit did live on the hospital grounds. He was born there, I believe. Mrs. Jetmalani came pregnant, I think. That, I'm -- I'm not sure of some of these details.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
DR. ROY MOSS: But we --
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. Well, we're getting ahead of ourselves.
DR. ROY MOSS: Yeah. I lived on the grounds of the hospital there, too. You know. KAREN BREWSTER: You mean the grounds of the Oregon State Hospital?
DR. ROY MOSS: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, okay. I didn't know it had a grounds.
DR. ROY MOSS: Yes, yes. Oh, very nice. Five bedroom homes and --
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.
DR. ROY MOSS: Great. Well, we won't go into that. Section 2:
KAREN BREWSTER: How did you end up getting interested in psychiatry and specializing in it?
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, I suppose you might say some personal issues, as they call them now, and my mother had problems with depression, and I wanted to discover the cure for schizophrenia, which I never did.
I always was interested in it from early. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-hum. So you did your psychiatry?
DR. ROY MOSS: There at the State Hospital.
KAREN BREWSTER: That was your residency field?
DR. ROY MOSS: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
DR. ROY MOSS: And there, one of the other psychiatrists at the time, at the state hospital, was William Teutsch, T-E-U-T-S-C-H. And he went to work at Morningside Hospital when he finished his residency. And he lived there on the grounds. He was quite ill, though, actually had emphysema, and didn't -- he didn't live too long afterwards.
The reason I mention his name also is that he did work there, and his wife was a nurse, Elaine, and they had a daughter named Lisa who now lives in Portland. That I know because one of my sons knows her. Anyhow, so because Bill Teutsch went there, and it sounded like a reasonable place, and it was a salary and I needed the money, so I went there. That's the circumstances of life, you know.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yes.
DR. ROY MOSS: Same thing for State Hospital of Salem, I couldn't afford anything else. And they paid better than anything else in the country, actually. KAREN BREWSTER: So how many -- how long were you at the Oregon State Hospital?
DR. ROY MOSS: Three -- three years.
KAREN BREWSTER: Three years. And then what year did you go to --
DR. ROY MOSS: Plus I had my rotating internship. 1962.
KAREN BREWSTER: Is when you went to Morningside?
DR. ROY MOSS: Is when I went to Morningside, right. I'm a little fuzzy on some of the details. Do you have some other questions? KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I'll keep -- keep going. Well, you said while you went to Morningside. Tell me what it was like when you got there. What was your first impression?
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, it had an interesting atmosphere. It was not like the usual state hospital that I'd seen. Most of them were very austere brick buildings, and these were a bunch of cottages, more or less, frame, painted white and sort of like a -- a large farm with several outbuildings, and so forth. And there was a farm there. And they did have cattle and they had pigs and they had gardens and they raised vegetables, as well, and they used them and they lived -- they fed the patients with -- they did their own slaughtering, I think. I'm not sure if it was there on the grounds. Patients did a lot of work, I must say. That I know, having observed that.
But when I got there, it was slowing down considerably, and so there weren't -- they were getting rid of a lot -- some of the farm animals, and gradually -- they actually had a prize herd at one time, Wayne Coe was known for his raising prize cattle. And Wayne Coe was the -- here, I'm not sure of that.
Wayne Coe was still alive and he was there, and I don't know if he was the president or whatever you would call it. His son Henry Coe was more or less running it, but Wayne was there; and he did have some executive capacity, but I don't know the exact. But he was forgetful and showed signs of early dementia. KAREN BREWSTER: So he was an elderly man by that point?
DR. ROY MOSS: Right.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. So how much contact did you have with -- excuse me -- with Henry?
DR. ROY MOSS: A lot. Yeah. We -- he was in on many of the patient conferences, and certainly anything that had to do with staffing and management of, he was in on that. And also we would go out socially after work sometimes and to the local steakhouse, so forth.
KAREN BREWSTER: So at this point you were still a single man?
DR. ROY MOSS: No, I was married.
KAREN BREWSTER: And your family --
DR. ROY MOSS: Not to this lady. Section 3:
KAREN BREWSTER: Tell me a little bit more about the Coes. What -- what were they like, Wayne and Henry?
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, I didn't really know Wayne very well to talk to. He was, again, forgetful. He -- one of the things I remember was that he would go places with his car and then he'd forget where he left his car. And that happened a lot. And -- but he would persist in doing that, and so there was always somebody who would have to go after and find the car. And they usually were able to track it down.
And there were other signs of confusion like that but I don't remember much else. He -- I'm digging here. KAREN BREWSTER: What about the --
DR. ROY MOSS: He may have talked about the old days. You know, they did have a collection of artifacts. Did you know that?
KAREN BREWSTER: No.
DR. ROY MOSS: Yes. It was -- and I think it was in his office, or somewhere, I remember a display case, and it had a number of, well, masks, for one thing, and then there were other artifacts. I'm not sure exactly. Little canoes or baskets or bowls or -- KAREN BREWSTER: So Native arts and crafts, is that --
DR. ROY MOSS: Yeah. Right. Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: From Alaska?
DR. ROY MOSS: Right.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
DR. ROY MOSS: I do remember one thing, it was a jaw of a -- of a -- one of the Alaskan women with the teeth were totally ground down to the bone from -- they used to chew on -- on the hides to -- to tan them or whatever, and they wore their teeth totally down to the -- to the bone edge. They didn't have anything showing, and it was quite brown. And we did have a couple of patients, live patients, who had that same thing, that had lived and done that.
So there were artifacts of various kinds, and people used to go up to Alaska to bring patients back home on our -- our -- I don't know if they brought them down. They may. I never had the opportunity somehow to go up there. A lot of the people did. KAREN BREWSTER: Were they -- were they the psychiatrists who did it or they were nurses or what was the --
DR. ROY MOSS: Some psychiatrists, some were nurses, some were psychiatric technicians or whatever they called them at that time. How they were selected, I'm not sure; I didn't get to go. I missed that. KAREN BREWSTER: And was that happening when you were working there?
DR. ROY MOSS: Yeah. Yes.
KAREN BREWSTER: That was still happening?
DR. ROY MOSS: Yeah. Uh-hum.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I was wondering, I know around -- I don't know exactly when Alaska patients started getting returned to Alaska. Do you know when that was? DR. ROY MOSS: Well, I started there in 1962, and they were still not sending them there. I would say until '64, probably a couple of years went by, and they -- they had everybody sort of lined up as who would go when, but they didn't have the room for them, first of all, and it wasn't completed. So I -- I think by 1966, they were all sent back. KAREN BREWSTER: And you said they didn't have the room for them, that would be the Alaska Psychiatric Institute?
DR. ROY MOSS: Psychiatric Institute.
KAREN BREWSTER: Were patients ever returned home or were they always returned to an institution?
DR. ROY MOSS: At the end -- at the end of it, I think they were returned to the institution. Prior to that, some people would return home. KAREN BREWSTER: You've heard of cases where they were returned home?
DR. ROY MOSS: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
DR. ROY MOSS: Yeah, they -- there were some. Understand they weren't all various Indian groups, but there -- some were Caucasians, and they were sent back.
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you know, what kind of provisions maybe were set up for people, I mean, to go from Morningside to home?
DR. ROY MOSS: Flew them. Everybody flew. I mean, that was the way it went. KAREN BREWSTER: Were -- but, you know, to adjust to life at home, were any kind of provisions made --
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- or assistance given?
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, here's where I mentioned -- I didn't mention, but I will mention a woman named Clara Salisbury, S-A-L-I-S-B-U-R-Y, and she -- and you know, I'm a little unclear here, but I'm going to say that she was registered nurse because she did nursing duties, and -- but she also was kind of a social worker, as well. And she would make regular trips to Alaska to visit the families of the patients there and report to them. And she had worked previously in Alaska going to the various outposts, including where you were up in Barrow and Nome, and -- and visiting families and doing some medical stuff. Because there were no doctors, practically, available, she would do certain -- I can't give you the details on the medical things. She gave injections and stuff like that, I'm pretty sure, which is why I think she had to be a nurse. She was quite elderly at the time, but still very -- very spritely woman, very full of energy. KAREN BREWSTER: Now, you said she visited the families. Was this after a patient was returned or when the patient was still --
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, the patients were still in the hospital.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- in Morningside, she would go visit the families --
DR. ROY MOSS: And tell them about it, yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.
DR. ROY MOSS: So there was somebody doing that. KAREN BREWSTER: I had never heard of that that happened.
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, that's what I understood.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
DR. ROY MOSS: I know she went up there, and that's what I thought her -- her mission was, and she may have accompanied people also returning.
KAREN BREWSTER: Did she ever bring patients to Morningside?
DR. ROY MOSS: Maybe. And I -- I don't know that for sure. Somebody accompanied them, you know, beside the pilot, I'm sure. Section 4:
KAREN BREWSTER: You mentioned the Native arts and crafts that there were on display. Were those made by people at the hospital?
DR. ROY MOSS: I'm not sure if -- that they were. Some were and some weren't.
KAREN BREWSTER: I was wondering about for the patients, what their day -- day-to-day life was like at Morningside. What -- what did they do? DR. ROY MOSS: Well, they did have programs for them. They had occupational therapists and they had a -- a school, too, a little -- one of the places was used as a schoolhouse, a little white schoolhouse in this case. And so they -- they had various activities. Well, arts and crafts, I guess. Again, some of the them would be the Native arts and crafts, and some would be others.
The teacher there at the time was a woman named Leola Ernstrom, E-R-N-S-T-R-O-M. I mention that because she later became the wife of Dr. Morris Bowerman (phonetic), who was there, somewhat after I came there. And I don't think -- I don't know if she's still living or not. They did divorce later. KAREN BREWSTER: So can you talk about what a typical day was like for a patient? Do you have familiarity with that?
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, I was assigned to some of the -- first of all, at the time I got there, they had known that the Psychiatric Institute was being finished, and it would be finished soon, they would take all the patients back. And as a result, the -- the Coes and their management decided to take in local private patients, and that's mostly what I was involved with, but I also had the authority for a chronic unit, so-called. And I can't remember exactly how many units there were, but I had a couple of them. And so I did have contact with those people.
He tried to keep them active, I know that, but then there was a mix of the private patients with the -- with the chronic, in certain instances. In some cases the chronic patients were too regressed to be with people who were more alert. There were some that were quite regressed, had been there many, many years. And some had been there many, many years and they weren't regressed. So it varied. KAREN BREWSTER: So that was one of my questions is what type of patients were there? What were the kinds of conditions people might have?
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, at the time I think that -- well, you know the history, don't you, or do you, that Henry Waldo Coe was the founder of the hospital, and he was a friend of -- and this I've heard, I don't know exact details -- he was a friend of Theodore Roosevelt, and they went hunting together in Alaska. That's how this whole thing got started, as I understand it.
And I -- I don't know the details, and I'm -- it's not authoritative, but they -- I know they did go hunting together because I did see something to that effect. Or pictures, perhaps. That's why I'm wondering whatever happened to all those pictures. But anyhow, Henry Waldo Coe was a physician, he called himself a psychiatrist, I guess. I don't know about his training. But he -- he took people into his own home which was in Portland, a large home, and he treated them there, a few of them. This was local people. And this -- and went on his hunting trips, I understand he made the arrangement with Roosevelt, and it was at that time the Territory of Alaska, to send the patients down. And you knew that reason was that they didn't have a place to keep them or they didn't have funds for it, or something. I don't know. They must have had funds because they paid them, and they -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, but we were a territory, and we certainly didn't have facilities. But I don't know how they --
DR. ROY MOSS: Right. They could have built them. But anyhow, they -- they sent them to Portland and flew them all down there over a period of time. And I don't know exactly how many were there, ultimately, but it was quite a large number. The number a thousand or something like that comes to mind, but I -- I'm not sure of the exact number. KAREN BREWSTER: I don't know.
DR. ROY MOSS: It was quite a bit. Quite a few. In these little buildings. Anyhow.
KAREN BREWSTER: But, so by the time you were there, it was already starting to be a mixture of --
DR. ROY MOSS: Right. Exactly.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- Alaskans and local people? DR. ROY MOSS: And the reason for sending people down, they had to be committed under law, they couldn't send them down there on a voluntary basis because if they wanted to leave, see, then, they could just leave and go out in the community of Portland. I think that -- that wasn't acceptable. So they were all, I believe -- I believe, under court order.
And some of them were also in a forensic situation. There were several that were found not guilty by reason of insanity. That's the term that was used in those days. And they remained there. There was one I know particularly, he was there for -- I don't know how many years, but the story was that he killed a man, and he was found not guilty by reason of insanity, and he -- he was one of those sort of the caretakers there. Pat Shanahan (phonetic). And I don't know, he was -- he did a lot of the work around the place, but they couldn't send him back because he was still paranoid. And --
KAREN BREWSTER: And was he want --
DR. ROY MOSS: And he didn't want to go back. KAREN BREWSTER: He didn't want to go back. Do you know why?
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, I -- he was comfortable there. He had a pretty good life there. He was trusted. He even, I think, went into town and did errands and stuff. That, I'm not sure of. But he was pretty trusted. So there were other -- there were a few others in that same category. And alcoholism was one of the factors in a number of cases, as you might expect in Alaska, complicating the mental illness. If it was purely alcoholism, they didn't stay, but they were treated and sent back. But again, I think they all had to be under some court order in order to do that. So -- and then there were the -- again, the psychotics, some of them were quite regressed.
KAREN BREWSTER: You use the word "regressed." For somebody who is not in the psychiatric profession, what do you mean? DR. ROY MOSS: Well, all kinds of different things. There's -- there's some kind of regression where people just sit and stare all day and don't respond too much around them, except appear to be responding to internal stimuli and have bizarre mannerisms and behaviors, as well, including eating non-food substances and messing themselves and so forth. That would be pretty severe regression. And others who were just pretty inert, who just sat there, and so forth. As I say, there were some who worked on the farm, less as I got there than they had formally, some worked in the kitchen helping with preparation and so forth. Section 5:
KAREN BREWSTER: You mentioned the chronic unit. What are examples of conditions that somebody might have that would be considered chronic?
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, primarily it would be schizophrenia. Some are almost catatonic, which you hardly ever see now. Paranoid. That -- those are the main -- that's the main psychotic condition. Bipolar disorders or manic depression, there were some in that category that had manic episodes, and then depressive episodes. That's the usual.
Some dementias that became psychotic. They had sort of a geriatric unit where there were -- some were demented and some were just extremely regressed, as some of these people, you know, they -- the old term for schizophrenia used to be dementia praecox, which in Latin means dementia of the young. So they -- they appeared to be demented, but they -- well, they were in part, I think, but because they didn't practice any language and activities and so forth.
Now, what the percentage of that population was, I'm -- I can only guess.
KAREN BREWSTER: So -- DR. ROY MOSS: Quite a few, actually.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- on the geriatric unit, were those people who had been residents there since they were children?
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, they just got older. Well, not, I don't think, children. If you look at the situation, I think Coe did -- you know, gosh, I'm trying to think of when the hospital -- when he really started it. KAREN BREWSTER: When Henry Waldo started it?
DR. ROY MOSS: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: I want to say 1912, or something like that.
DR. ROY MOSS: Something in that vicinity.
KAREN BREWSTER: I have that date in my head.
DR. ROY MOSS: But it didn't really -- it wasn't large. First it was his own house, and then all these other -- he either bought other structures, or he bought the farm thing, and then probably built all those other structures. I don't know. That could be found probably in the city records, you know. I'm sure it could be. But, yeah. Around that time. So it's conceivable that some of them came in then and remained until I was there in '65, or '62. There were some there that had been there 40 years, but I don't know if they were there as children.
KAREN BREWSTER: But I was wondering, the geriatrics, it was people who had been long-term residents and aged.
DR. ROY MOSS: Very long term, yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: It wasn't coming in as a aged --
DR. ROY MOSS: Sometimes -- sometimes they were aged that came in.
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you have a sense of how many --
DR. ROY MOSS: But not too many new ones were coming in, you see, when I was there. That was the whole point. They'd stopped -- well, they hadn't stopped but they were -- I'm not sure what they did. At some point they stopped sending them. KAREN BREWSTER: From Alaska.
DR. ROY MOSS: And I don't know what they did before the place was built, so they had to have someplace --
KAREN BREWSTER: Right. But so you --
DR. ROY MOSS: -- to keep them.
KAREN BREWSTER: But Alaskan patients --
DR. ROY MOSS: Oh, they also had another unit. You know, there was a TB hospital in -- it was in -- well, something was in Valdez. But that wasn't what it was called. Mount -- it was Mount -- KAREN BREWSTER: Well, in Valdez, there was Harborview Hospital, which was built for the developmentally disabled --
DR. ROY MOSS: Yes.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- but I think that came later.
DR. ROY MOSS: It may have come later.
KAREN BREWSTER: Mount Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka --
DR. ROY MOSS: Mount Edgecumbe.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- was a TB hospital.
DR. ROY MOSS: That's the one.
KAREN BREWSTER: I don't know the timing on it.
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, some of the people came down from there that went psychotic or had management problems. KAREN BREWSTER: What do you mean, management problems?
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, they were obstreperous or diff -- wouldn't comply with rules or whatever. That had to be, I think, that there may have been a more generous view of mentally ill at that time, it's just that they were unmanageable. So they did have some that were younger kids had TB up there. So they got some from there, and some from the developmentally disabled, too, who may have been autistic, actually, because we did have a few autistic who became adults. Section 6:
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you have a sense of when you were there how many patients were adults versus children versus teenagers?
DR. ROY MOSS: Of the Alaska people, there weren't that many children. I can't even think of any. I can only think of a few of them. And then there -- there were some that came in as teenagers that -- from the community, and I worked with them, but from Alaska, not many children. I can't hardly think of any, actually, but there were a few, I think. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, in terms of the population at Morningside --
DR. ROY MOSS: Yeah, there was a kid, I remember. Donny. Donny German was his name. And he -- he was kind of a autistic.
KAREN BREWSTER: I was trying to get a sense of the community at Morningside and --
DR. ROY MOSS: How it functioned?
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, how it functioned, and what kind of patients were there, and kids. DR. ROY MOSS: Well, I think they tried to keep the more regressed separated from the -- the extremely regressed from the more functional, but there was a lot of mixing. It was -- it was far more of a democratic kind of society, and I think they tried to do some of the therapeutic community ideas at the time. We -- we tried that Maxwell Jones sort of thing. It wasn't too successful, unfortunately. But we did individual counseling and we had a psychologist there. There was a -- and I don't know how long they had been there, I think some time. I couldn't remember, before my time, but they had one psychologist, Bob Furchner, F-U-R-C-H-N-E-R, and he, I think, was the chief psychologist, and he also had a -- some interns from the University of Portland, they had an arrangement with them. And one of the interns was a woman named Jean Stewart, S-T-E-W-A-R-T. And she and Bob Furchner were married. You get a little pattern there?
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
DR. ROY MOSS: Anyhow, I've got to watch myself with these things. The -- she had me sign some kind of statement here, but it didn't cover some of this, I don't think. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, it's just -- it's for the public. That's all it's reminding.
DR. ROY MOSS: And there was another intern that I remember named Mike Peck, and I know that Mike went on to get his Ph.D. -- or maybe they were Ph. -- no, they weren't, they were Ph.D. candidates. He went to work down in Los Angeles at a suicide prevention center. And that's the last I heard of him. Bob Furchner died suddenly while I was working there, I believe. He had a heart attack. He was a pretty young man. Active, too.
I should mention that I'm not sure who was in charge of the medical staff. I know that there was a man named John Haskins who was a long-time psychiatrist there during much of this Alaska time.
And another, Bill -- William Thompson. And Bill Thompson went on to practice in Portland. And they were and -- the men I mostly worked with when I got there was a man named Alan Roberts, and he was a Welshman from Wales. And he was trying to get this local private hospital concept going. Section 7:
KAREN BREWSTER: So before you were there and they started bringing local patients to fill in for the Alaskans going back, it had only been Alaska patients who lived at Morningside?
DR. ROY MOSS: Uh-hum.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.
DR. ROY MOSS: Yeah. They paid the bills. As far as I know. I'm not sure if they didn't sometimes use it as a holding facility in an emergency situation, and I'm a little vague on that, for the local -- if somebody had to be transported to a hospital quickly, they would -- because they were on the east side of town, and there was only one psychiatric hospital when I started in Portland, at Holiday Park, since has closed. And later on, there -- there were a couple more, including at the university. The university always had a unit, but it wasn't as active. And then Providence Hospital, and I worked there later, as a matter of fact.
KAREN BREWSTER: So --
DR. ROY MOSS: On the east side.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- you said that Dr. Roberts was who you worked with. Is he who you reported to?
DR. ROY MOSS: Right. KAREN BREWSTER: And then Dr. Haskins and Thompson were your peers?
DR. ROY MOSS: They were gone.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.
DR. ROY MOSS: But I read about them in the record. I read the records quite extensively, that's how I knew about a lot of that. So I knew about a lot of the treatment things.
KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-hum. So who were some of the other doctors who you worked with?
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, I don't remember. That was it, I think. Bowerman, I mentioned that.
KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-hum. DR. ROY MOSS: Later there it changed again. The -- let's see. I think Roberts left at some point, and a man named Charles Jones came from the east somewhere, some -- he was pretty well known at the time, the American Psychiatric Association. And then is followed by a man named Wendell Hutchens, H-U-T-C-H-E-N-S.
We didn't have that many psychiatrists. I can't think of any others that were there at the time. If I do, I'll let you know. KAREN BREWSTER: So what kind of treatments did you utilize?
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, you understand this was '62, and Thorazine had just been approved in the late '50s for medical treatment, and so we did use Thorazine and Stelazine drug treatments, and were pretty effective for a lot of the people. Some, it was not. Prior to the advent of the chemotherapy, they used a lot of electric shock therapy. And some of these people received several hundred electric shock treatments. They were many, in the hundreds. Dr. Thompson primarily, and Haskins, I guess. KAREN BREWSTER: So that was before you got there or while you were there also?
DR. ROY MOSS: While I was there, we did give some. Some differently than they had. They had given the treatments just using electrodes applied to the scalp, and we used an anesthesia and a muscle relaxing agent, as well, but we didn't use too much. And they did use insulin coma therapy for a while, but it was stopped. It was rather risky therapy. Insulin coma was induced by injecting insulin until a person went into coma, and then gradually bring them out of it. The belief that it was -- had to do with some problem with the metabolism of glucose, which is an interesting thing because many psychotics are diabetic, as well. But the connection has since been pretty iffy. And -- but actually, some of the people had approved with it, the coma, surprisingly enough. When they came out of it, I guess they felt happy to be alive.
KAREN BREWSTER: And was that a treatment still being used while you were there? DR. ROY MOSS: I think there were a couple of people that had that. I didn't administer it, though. But then they stopped that. It was supposed to be for really refractory patients. KAREN BREWSTER: Was isolation ever used?
DR. ROY MOSS: Oh, yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: Can you talk about that?
DR. ROY MOSS: Right. I -- I don't know, but they tried to avoid restraints, if possible, but I think they had to be used at some times, but they tried to use the minimum. Isolation was -- well, if people were out of control, they did have some kind of a rubber room, as they used to call it, but where they would be protected and under observation. That didn't seem to happen too much. That happened more in Oregon State Hospital. But after the advent of the medications, they seemed to be effective in reducing aggression and agitation.
Well, prior to -- there are other things that were used in the past in psychiatry, which I don't know that they were used at Morningside. I mean, certain drugs, sometimes narcotic type or combinations of narcotic and a emetic were used together, Apomorphine and Hyoscine seemed to calm some people, I guess. And earlier, I think they did use the bromides and barbiturates, but they -- they, too, were discontinued. Chlorohydrate sedative. So -- and then they -- you know, activities were a lot of the -- tried to keep people focused. Section 8:
KAREN BREWSTER: And you mentioned the community therapy.
DR. ROY MOSS: Right.
KAREN BREWSTER: And you said that wasn't so successful. Do you know why?
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, people wouldn't talk. And it was like pulling teeth. You had to wait for them to say something, and sometimes it was quite irrelevant. Maxwell Jones actually was -- he was a very clever man, and he would be able to take the utterances of people and -- and translate them, rightly or wrongly, into some kind of a context, so they'd say something bizarre and he would interpret that, and sometimes to the -- to the dismay of -- of the person who said it. So -- KAREN BREWSTER: Well, I -- I have a question about how it worked with the patient care. Were you assigned a patient and you always saw the same patient or you kind of saw the same --
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, on the new patients we were assigned, occurred on a rotation. These were the private patients. There were no new Alaska patients coming in, to my knowledge anyhow. So it was all new local patients, and we would be assigned in rotation, and we would see that person and administer medication and talk to them, psychotherapy, and select a program of occupational therapy or physical activities of various kinds, and various other kinds of treatments that were available. Art, and whatever they were interested in, music. And so we coordinated that for those individuals.
And so there was so many of them as they came in. And they were discharged, usually they had short stays. They didn't stay; because of insurance and other factors, they couldn't stay too long, although we did have some that were able somehow to have lengthy stays. KAREN BREWSTER: So what's a short stay? What time --
DR. ROY MOSS: A couple of weeks to a month, maybe.
KAREN BREWSTER: And a lengthy one would be?
DR. ROY MOSS: Six months or more. The cost would be pretty prohibitive if you didn't have insurance. KAREN BREWSTER: So you -- that person who you were assigned to when they came in, you continued to see that patient for the whole time --
DR. ROY MOSS: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- they were there?
DR. ROY MOSS: Right.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
DR. ROY MOSS: Until they were discharged. And they were all discharged.
KAREN BREWSTER: So there was some consistency in care?
DR. ROY MOSS: Right. KAREN BREWSTER: And do you know about the Alaska patients who had been -- when you got there, you were there --
DR. ROY MOSS: We -- we didn't have the same program for them. They were mostly assigned to activities, and they all had activity schedules. Many of them had sort of jobs, really, of doing various things around the hospital, including the grounds and things of that sort. And then we would see them on some kind of a regular basis. They had to be seen individually every so often. I don't know, maybe a month. But we'd also see them in a group. They would have a -- sort of a muster in the morning where everybody would report, and I would go to those and get the report from the unit supervisor and, you know, what had happened, and if there's anybody that needed to be seen, anybody having special difficulties. And I would just observe and see if there's anybody that appeared to be having problems, more unusual problems.
That's how we managed it with the chronic unit. So they had to be seen, and their medications had to be reviewed probably every week or so. I'm not sure exactly, but -- and re -- rewritten, et cetera. Pretty standard kind of practice. Section 9:
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you think the treatments and the patient care at Morningside was comparable to national standard at the time?
DR. ROY MOSS: I would say it was comparable to national standard of public hospitals, and maybe even a little better than that. And as far as priority hospitals, there's a lot of variation there. Some of the -- I would say better than some of the private, and not as good as some of the others. Not a Sheppard and Enoch Pratt or that sort of thing, and I don't even know how good those are. The ones in the East, you know, highly touted private hospitals. But, you know, they didn't have the high-priced psychiatrists and so forth to treat them, and psychoanalysts and that sort of thing that they have in the East. But as a public hospital, it was, I think, at least as good as most. Better than a lot. KAREN BREWSTER: And do you know -- feel like there were any deficiencies that were very obvious?
DR. ROY MOSS: When I got there, it was -- well, it's like anyplace that, you know, they -- some people are lax in their observations and they let things go and people get in difficulty. But so many of the chronic patients were stable, even though they weren't well, they were -- they weren't acting up and creating difficulties that didn't require a lot of intervention. And theoretically, you know, they could have -- who knows, that's the point, could they have made it on the outside with supervision, because we don't know now, but people in a state hospital, they are on the streets now, living on the homeless shelters and wherever, or under bridges. That's what happened to a lot of them that were discharged from the mental hospitals here. KAREN BREWSTER: And that -- that was a question I had, is some of those chronic Alaska patients were there for a long time, and did they need to have been there that long?
DR. ROY MOSS: Possibly not; again, depending upon what was waiting for them elsewhere. I mean, that was the same old story other places. Oregon State Hospital, when I started working there, had 5,000 patients.
KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. DR. ROY MOSS: And they now have a hundred maybe. Well, whatever happened to all the rest of them? A lot of them are living in the streets, and too many, and I don't even know how many.
So when you ask the question, could they have lived, yeah, they could have lived on the streets, but could they have lived any kind of a reasonable life? That depends upon what was there for them. Because they were still not quite right. Some who were apparently okay, I don't know. That -- well, that -- that's being tested now. People are let go and they -- how do they do? Section 10:
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, there's -- there's stories in Alaska of people being sent to Morningside who maybe didn't have a mental health issue and they were finding they were sent there for reasons that they were a troublemaker in the community or somebody didn't like them.
DR. ROY MOSS: Family members. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: You know. And did you -- and so that makes you wonder if people were there unnecessarily.
DR. ROY MOSS: Unnecessarily. Well, I can't really vouch for any of that because many of them would say that, you know. That's -- that's part of -- part of the deal is that people say, I shouldn't be here, I'm perfectly fine, and they would act pretty fine, too. But you don't know what they would be outside. And often, when you got to know them better and you talked to them, they still had mental illness, but they were better able to conceal it, which is okay also, but would they conceal it on the outside. So I don't have any knowledge of any of that. KAREN BREWSTER: You did mention the alcoholic question, and it sounds like there were some people who were sent there with alcohol problems, and then they were sent home, that that was all that was happening?
DR. ROY MOSS: Right. Right. Well, that's theoretically what should have happened, if they recovered from their alcoholism, or from acute or chronic, then if they didn't have residuals, you know, some of them were demented, too, and so they were psychotic. There are psychoses associated with alcoholism. And -- and some of the people were pretty serious alcoholics. So they may have stayed. But others should have been sent back. And I can't say for sure whether they were all -- that happened in all cases. I didn't mention nurses. We had quite a few nurses there. You mentioned two, Lynette McCoy and Helen Nigh. And you said they came up to Alaska after --
KAREN BREWSTER: That's what somebody has said, that they came and helped at Harborview Hospital. And I don't know if they helped with the transfer of patients or what. DR. ROY MOSS: Whatever. They -- they were very knowledgeable, they had been there a long time. So -- but there were other nurses that worked with them.
Let's see if I left anybody out.
KAREN BREWSTER: So what was -- what was Lynette McCoy like? Was she the head nurse?
DR. ROY MOSS: Yes. KAREN BREWSTER: What was she like as a person?
DR. ROY MOSS: She was a very strong personality, authorit -- authoritative. I actually liked her. She was a no-nonsense kind of person, and she didn't like excuses or long explanations, or cut to the -- cut to the chase type of thing. And she made her staff tow the line in terms of being on time and doing their job, keeping the reports. And -- but you didn't want to cross her, I guess, this is one of the things; that is to say, countermand an order that she had -- a nursing order. And if she didn't like a medical order, she would tell us, too. She was pretty outspoken. But that didn't mean we had to conform.
And, well, you know, she was lesbian, and that didn't seem to make any difference to the program. So I don't think she used that in any way in her job. KAREN BREWSTER: And what was Helen like?
DR. ROY MOSS: Well, Helen was more passive. She was her partner.
KAREN BREWSTER: Her life partner?
DR. ROY MOSS: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, okay.
DR. ROY MOSS: And -- well, I don't know that that's hearsay, but I'm -- I'm pretty sure. She was very polite and friendly, and more like a nursing kind of nurturing kind of person. KAREN BREWSTER: And was Helen like the assistant?
DR. ROY MOSS: Yeah, sort of, I guess you'd say.
KAREN BREWSTER: Assistant head?
DR. ROY MOSS: Whatever she was, supervising or something.