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.
Elaine Ritschard - Tape #ORAL HISTORY 2006-15-22-tp2
Elaine Ritschard was interviewed by Bill Schneider and Karen Brewster on April 20, 2010 at Summerset Lodge retirement community in Gladstone, Oregon, a suburb of Portland, where she currently lives.
Return to part one of this interview.
Click to section:
Section 1: Stresses and strains as a staff member at Morningside Hospital.
Section 2: Relationship amongst staff at Morningside Hospital, and care of patients in the geriatric ward.
Section 3: Variety of methods used for the treatment of mental illness.
Section 4: Staff dynamics and working conditions at Morningside Hospital.
Section 5: Assessment of doctors who worked at Morningside Hospital, and type of psychiatric and medical care the patients received.
Section 6: Care of private and voluntary patients at Morningside Hospital and her concerns about children removed from abusive homes being allowed to return for weekend visits.
Section 7: The physical layout of the buildings on the Morningside Hospital campus.
Section 8: Transfer of Alaskan children to Harborview Hospital in Valdez, Alaska near the time of Morningside Hospital.
Section 9: Care of the children at Morningside Hospital and their eventual transition elsewhere.
Section 10: Staff longevity at Morningside Hospital and the type of care the children there required.
Section 11: Types of adult patients at Morningside Hospital and types of activities and treatments provided to them.
Section 12: Assessment of patient care and experiences at Morningside Hospital, overview of the rest of her nursing career, and why she left her job at Morningside.
BILL SCHNEIDER: What were some of the stresses and strains that you faced as a staff member working in that environment?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Well, there were two areas that I felt there was conflict going on. But because I was independent of this in my workplace, and because I came and went directly to work and right back home, and was interested in my family, I wasn't involved, but I would hear things like the conflict from Mr. Henry Coe, Jr., and the doctors debating some kinds of treatment or equipment or cost.
Mr. Coe was also having financial problems. Mr. Coe was also having family problems, personal problems. I think that's why he stayed in his apartment periodically and had an apartment on the grounds. I made it a point not to be involved in any of this because it wasn't something I was interested in. I had a job to do and that ended there.
There was conflict in the nursing level, and I was treated with much respect because I had a very stable home and a husband and family. And they respected me for what I did on the job. I did not attend the administrative meetings, I didn't attend the nursing meetings, I gave them the reason that I had to go right home, take care of my family, because my husband was working as a police lieutenant for the City of Portland, and he was baby-sitting while I was working and I'd baby-sit while he was working. I was not involved with any of the personal, financial conflicts of roles that these people were playing. I stayed completely out of it. And they respected me for it. They even allowed me to miss these meetings. A lot of the women and nurses and RNs were required to go. And if they didn't, they looked down on them. But they left me alone. If there was a conflict, I made it a point not to get involved. Not even to know about it. The job I did had to be done and I did it my own way and my own ideas, and they -- they supported me. They gave me whatever I needed. They followed up on giving me whatever equipment I wanted. And I didn't have any problems. And I stayed out of everything. But I know there was conflict, especially on the administrative level. And what I heard was something I just didn't -- I tuned out. I didn't want to hear it. I didn't want to know about it. I had a job to do. Section 2:
BILL SCHNEIDER: What about that second conflict amongst the nurses? Can you say more about that?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: I -- no. It would be not something... I will not share.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Okay.
KAREN BREWSTER: Did -- you mentioned that you went home every day and took care of your own family. Were there other staff members who were residential at Morningside? ELAINE RITSCHARD: No, but they lived close enough to come and go, and they were there for the meetings. And they are the ones I heard the stories from, were my coworkers, not from -- I didn't involve myself with the administration people at all, but if I heard anything, it was from my coworkers, another RN. Or maybe an RN was treated poorly. Maybe she was given a job that she didn't want to do. But they left me alone. Nobody bothered me. I -- I -- I wasn't involved in anything but there was some that would say she didn't like this job or she didn't want to do that job, and that's where I heard it. But I just let it drop right there. That was the end of it. But now that was at the tail end. Remember, it was 1963 to 1968. I did start in 1960, but I was off for a period. But I -- I didn't have to worry about anything because they left me alone.
KAREN BREWSTER: Why do you think they left you alone and were so supportive of giving you what you needed to do the job? ELAINE RITSCHARD: That's the part I'm not going to talk about.
BRAD RITSCHARD: Can I share something when you're talking?
BILL SCHNEIDER: Sure. Let me just introduce you -- it's Brad?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: It's Brad Ritschard, yes.
BILL SCHNEIDER: This is Elaine's son, Brad, who has joined us here. And thank you for coming.
BRAD RITSCHARD: Thanks. I just -- when you're talking about stressors, I just want to expound that I remember, and I was 8 or 10 at the time, that what you talked about that bothered you in stress was the kids, you talked about the failure-to-thrive babies. I -- I remember the conversations with you and dad about the electric shock, that you didn't like that, and I think I remember something about lobotomies. I don't --
ELAINE RITSCHARD: The what? BRAD RITSCHARD: Lobotomies. Were they performed out there?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: No.
BRAD RITSCHARD: Okay. But I remember you talking about the electric shock. And you didn't like --
ELAINE RITSCHARD: I said -- I said that contributed to the state of the patient. The patient that we saw in geriatrics had had electric shock and lobotomies and were limited in their ability, but that was before.
BRAD RITSCHARD: Before your time?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Before my time. BRAD RITSCHARD: Because I -- I know you've always talked about --
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Uh-hum.
BRAD RITSCHARD: -- how you didn't like that.
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Uh-hum. Uh-hum.
BRAD RITSCHARD: Okay. Section 3:
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah, that's great. It's very interesting that you came in after that more modern progressive ways of treating illness, and let you had -- you were dealing with the legacy of that in some cases.
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Yes. I had that in nurses training. When I -- when I was in nurses training, I went to a Holiday Park Hospital and the Salem State Hospital, and that's where I saw the experiences with the electric shock, lobotomies, insulin shock. Even -- let's see, they took the patients in all kinds of states. Water therapy, now, we did use at Morningside Hospital, we did use showers and water therapy and relaxation therapies. We did use that. I saw doctors order that.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Were those effective?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Pardon?
BILL SCHNEIDER: Were they effective? ELAINE RITSCHARD: Oh, yes. And electric shock was effective if you had a qualified therapist, Doctor, with -- that knew how to do electric shock, and that's still used today. Electric shock is used today. And it is very good in certain diagnoses. I still recommend electric shock for certain diagnosis of patients. But the doctor has to be well qualified, has to know his business, and it's used in a limited amount of time. And treatment. And they still -- it's still something I would recommend for certain things.
I have a cousin who had bipolar, and it was used in bipolar, and she's beautiful today. She functions just beautiful. And she got that at Gamisch Hospital (phonetic), which was a hospital that was built after our State Hospital was limited. So it's still recommended, but you have to have quality and educated people that do those things.
So I'm not saying electric shock was not something that shouldn't be used, I'm saying that when it was used and overdone. The thing that I disliked the most was the lobotomies. I didn't like that ever done. I didn't feel that was something I would approve of. But then that's probably why you heard those stories from me. If those were the after effects. We -- these were the patients that had these things, and we were getting them in the stages of them not being able to function, and not being able to even respond to medications, you see. It was too late at that point. Section 4:
BILL SCHNEIDER: Did you develop any friendships with the residents that carried on outside of the professional relationship?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: No. No. We had a very busy home life and very busy family. We were very active in sports, in our church and our family. We had a very active -- I wouldn't have time for any of that. No, I didn't -- I didn't build any friendships. I did know a couple of RNs because they had married some of my classmates in Gresham, from Gresham High School. But no.
KAREN BREWSTER: How many other nurses and doctors and aides, what was the size of the staff over the years you were there? ELAINE RITSCHARD: When I was there, there were -- there were five doctors on staff. There were probably eight RNs. I would say there were at least four caregivers; and what qualifications they had as training and education, I don't know, but they were on staff as nurses aides, orderlies, and there were at least four to every ward. No ward was ever left without staff. Even when we walked them to the cafeteria, if there were two or three people that couldn't walk to the cafeteria, they were left with -- with staff to supervise. Some of the RNs that had been there before I came were unhappy with the relationship of their supervisor, superintendent of nurses. But when I listened to them and talked to them, I felt it was part their fault that they put up with it. Or that they allowed themselves to be manipulated. I didn't take anybody's side or advise because I thought, well, maybe it's something you should do about it. BILL SCHNEIDER: What were those issues?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: They were manipulated by the superintendent and the assistant superintendent. The assistant superintendent was very jealous. And was very controlling. And some of the nurses were intimidated by her. I never had that problem.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Were there substantive issues in terms of --
ELAINE RITSCHARD: What were they intimidated about? How they did their work. How they related to the patient. What their relationship was to the superintendent of nurses. That's it. BILL SCHNEIDER: Well, we'd love to know more about that, but I respect your --
ELAINE RITSCHARD: That's it.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Okay.
ELAINE RITSCHARD: And I have no problem whatsoever and I don't think anybody that was working there, if they were an adult, and if they were mature and if they knew their job, they could do it.
And I will say that Morningside Hospital had all of the things that was needed for the patient while I was there, they provided it. Section 5:
KAREN BREWSTER: And what about the relationship with the doctors? How often did they come around and interact with patients?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: All doctors, in my estimation, whether they are psychiatrists or whether they are pediatricians, are just human beings. And they do not need to be revered or stand on a pillar. They are just human beings like the rest of us. There are good ones and there are bad ones. There are qualified ones and there are some that I wouldn't go to. Okay?
Saying that, Morningside Hospital had a very good doctor in Dr. Bowerman (phonetic). He came about in -- he came in about 1961 or '2, and he was there for a while. I liked him very much. He was interested in the patient. He was trying new things, like lithium for depression. He wanted to do new things. He was good.
KAREN BREWSTER: He was a psychiatrist?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: They are all psychiatrists. I'm speaking of all psychiatrists. The doctor that was on call for the emergency, he was good but he was near his end of retirement, and he didn't want to be involved with a lot of things. So he was -- he didn't want to be bothered. But if you caught him, he was good. The doctor that came for the community people, the one that saw a lot of our walk-in, short-term patients, I thought he was zero because he could be manipulated by the patient, the patient could do anything he wanted to do. Remember, in that period of time, that's when all the drugs were coming in. So he was seeing a lot of teenagers. We had some wonderfully interesting patients that came in. There was a group of patients that came in from the Job Corps. They came from New York. They lived on the streets of New York, and had never even seen a tree. They sent them up to the national forest to work in the forest. They had crisis. They had breakdowns. They couldn't handle the wilderness. Of course, they couldn't handle the wilderness. Okay. We had young men. That was very interesting. But to see how Dr. Moss worked with them, we never respected him. He would be manipulated and we'd tell him so. And he'd say, really? You think so? Well, anyway. Dr. Bowerman worked right along beside him, was very good, so naturally we went to him.
We had good doctors come in from the community. Those children were checked over for foot problems. We had pediatricians, we had a clinic once a week that these children were looked at and checked on for anything that we picked up during the week. A child that has a lot of disabilities as far as birth and illness where they are regressed quite a bit, they have a lot of upper respiratory problems. Okay. These pediatricians came in. We had dentists come in. Sometimes a child had to be taken out to private clinics. It was done. They were taken. Section 6:
The patients that I felt bad about, and that I didn't respect the administration about is they took children away from parents that were abusing them, then the parents would pick them up on weekends and take them home for the weekends. There was no consistency in protecting that child. That upset me. But those were private patients that were not Alaskan patients that I saw. Like I say, I never saw an Alaskan relative or friend come and visit those kids. If they did, it was not when I saw it. I was not available to it. But the private patients that came in, and that was probably -- we started hiring help for private patients because of the lack of patients, and it was a financial thing, you had to fill up your wards. So that was where the administration was admitting anything. But I wasn't involved in that, other than the children that I saw going back into a home where the abuse was, and after that, I didn't -- I saw that. BILL SCHNEIDER: But you couldn't do anything about that?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: No, I couldn't. We could report it. We questioned it. We questioned it to the doctors. Why do you let them go back home? And he said, well, legally, we have to. They voluntarily brought them in. I don't know what "legally" meant, but they -- the doctor just washed their hands of it, so I don't know -- do you know anything about that, legally? BRAD RITSCHARD: I know what it is in the '70s, '80s, and '90s, but not back then. I believe if it was voluntary --
ELAINE RITSCHARD: I don't know what kind of laws they had then.
BRAD RITSCHARD: If it's voluntary, of course, they can leave any time they want.
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Yeah.
BRAD RITSCHARD: But if the state takes -- I don't even know if they had child care back then.
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Okay. These were not state. These were not state admitted, these were the families bringing them in.
BRAD RITSCHARD: Yeah. Yeah.
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Okay. BILL SCHNEIDER: Were there other Morningside people, staff people, that are still alive that we should maybe try to contact?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: If there are, I don't know where they'd be. I have -- I didn't keep in contact with anybody and I don't know if they were local. The RNs that I knew that were working there were local, but I know two of them have passed away. The other one might be living but she's remarried, so I don't know her married name. And that's the one I told you from Gresham.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Uh-hum. Uh-hum. Section 7:
KAREN BREWSTER: I don't know if you -- you mentioned, you know, the photo of the main building and that there was a children's ward, and you mentioned other wards. I don't know if we've gone through what they were and sort of the layout of the whole place.
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Oh, okay. In the picture, there's the main building. In the main building, you had the emergency short-term unit that was a treatment unit, it was the area that the police brought them in. They were holding cells. They were actually lock-and-key holding cells. They were short term because they had to go through legalities, maybe jury, maybe -- maybe -- it was a lock-up. Okay. That was Multnomah County people. Okay. Or patients. Off the street, from homes, wherever the -- the occasion, the mental health breakdown occurred, the police would bring them in. And then there was the cafeteria and the kitchens were in that building on the one end. And that was well done. That was a big building. There was a storage unit for supplies, and there were the administration offices, nursing administration offices. That was in that one large building, that first one on the left, coming into the complex. Behind it was the little red schoolhouse. Beyond that was the barns. Over behind the -- I didn't see that in the picture, but connected to that building by a breezeway was an empty warehouse that was a hospital unit at one time that they gave me for the activity building. Then the children's ward were originally 3 wards, and there were 60 children there. The 8 that I told you about that were so limited, there was one with 30, and one with maybe 20. When I arrived, there was only about 10, 20, and 8. And they were connected by a breezeway so the children walked through the breezeway, they didn't go outside, through the breezeway into the cafeteria to eat. That was on the left. Then there was the administration building, and I know you've got that one, that's facing this way, toward 102nd and Stark. It's facing the main road. There were parking lots in the front and then there were grounds all around with trees and flowers and shrubs. Then there was the -- there was a unit that was half short-term patients that we were now getting as private, and there was a half unit of young ladies still Alaskan patients that were still being treated. They were maybe manic depressive, maybe, or bipolar. They weren't called bipolar, they were manic-depressives then. Alcoholics that were being treated. These were lock-up rooms. These were -- but they weren't cells. They had private rooms and then a social room. But they had their own rooms. That was -- that was right next to the administration building. So that came and went short term. And then sometimes we'd discharge them and send them out to that male and female unit. They were separate buildings. And then we had a geriatric unit. And that takes care of all the buildings. There was one, two, three -- four buildings of patients out there, and then three for the children. There was the administration building, and -- but you have them all in your picture. And then there was large gardens. Those gardens were and barns and storage. That's -- that's what your picture was. Section 8:
KAREN BREWSTER: So were you ever involved in any intake of Alaska patients or discharge of Alaska patients?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: The only part I saw or involved -- involved was when they started going home. And then we had to get the -- get the clothes together, get their belongings together, packed up and boxed up. I don't remember more than four children while I was there going back to Alaska on that plane. Most of them came from that unit where the young men and women were.
Now, remember, they were 16 to 55 female and male. And I don't remember more than two airplane lifts to Alaska. There may have been more before I came. May have been more after I left. I don't think there were any more after I left. I think they were all gone. I think I was still there when they were all gone.
BILL SCHNEIDER: What was the reaction of the children when they were told they were going back home?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: What were their?
BILL SCHNEIDER: Reactions. ELAINE RITSCHARD: Reaction? Some of them were crying. They didn't want to go. This was the only home they knew. They didn't want to go. Nobody came for them that they knew. The only people that accompanied one -- accompanied them were the people that had been taking care of them. They didn't want to go. I assumed they were going to Valdez to the same type of unit that they were coming from. I don't know where they went. See, I don't know whether they went to families or whether they went to the hospital. I don't know that. But they didn't want to go. This was their home and their family and their friends. And they used to call that first mother and father, mother and father, mama and daddy.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Was there any follow-up at all once they left?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: It was really an unsettled hospital after the Alaskan patients left. There -- I -- I didn't -- I didn't work there after all the patients were gone, but they -- it was unsettled even at the point when they were beginning to move out because the function of the hospital was an Alaskan State Hospital, and it was functioning as a hospital and a residential area for the Alaskan patient and resident. And when they were gone, the purpose for the hospital hadn't been identified yet. They didn't know what they were going to do with the hospital. And other than the community coming in, because we were here in Oregon, we were using it as emergency and short-term care. We were getting patients, by the way, from the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, and some of those were Alaskan. We were getting them in -- but they were in Oregon. They were in Oregon. They were Oregon residents. And we were getting patients from them. So it was un -- when I left, it was unsettled what was going to happen to the hospital, what it was going to become, what they were going to do. Section 9:
BILL SCHNEIDER: What I was wondering about was follow-up with the patients once the -- residents once they went back to Alaska.
ELAINE RITSCHARD: We didn't.
BILL SCHNEIDER: You didn't?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Huh-uh. I don't know whether -- no. See, Lynette McCoy and Helen Nye went with them, went to Valdez. They were up there until that earthquake. BILL SCHNEIDER: Did they ever talk to you about why they went to Harborview?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: I didn't ask them. I never -- no. I just assumed they went up to help them get settled, and help them get organized, and give them input of what -- how they handled -- how they handled it here at Morningside. I just assumed, but nobody told me, I just assumed they were going up to help the people organize their hospital and give them input on how Morningside did it. That's all I assumed that went on. And then I was gone. And I didn't keep any kind of correspondence with anybody. Not even with the people I worked with. KAREN BREWSTER: Now, were you the head -- head nurse on the child's ward?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Yes. I was in charge. Uh-hum. There were no other RNs in that unit. I had nurses aides and orderlies, and they were really neat. They took such good care of those little kids. Now, remember, I was there on the day shift. They had -- they had care, but the kids were sleeping, just like your children would go to sleep. I'm sure they had to get them up to go potty, change their beds, because not all of them were well potty trained. And I'm sure the young man in that unit had to be cleaned up and taken care of. By the way, he came out of that enclosed area eventually and had his meals on the ward, and he eventually came out of that enclosed lock-up place. And he had a brother there. I'll tell you a -- his brother was about three years younger than he was. And his brother would visit with him; not inside the room, through the door, and then when he came out, he'd come out and visit with his brother. His brother was about three years younger than he was, but they looked alike. And they were Natives.
KAREN BREWSTER: So you had a day shift and a night shift?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Three shifts.
KAREN BREWSTER: Three shifts?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: 7:00 to 3:00, 3:00 to 11:00, 11:00 to 7:00. Those were the shifts of all hospitals. By the way, they were the shifts of the policemen when dad was working, too. That's how dad and I got to baby-sit the kids. Dad would work one shift, I'd work another, and we had a baby-sitter come in and -- and sit in the house for the travel time until I got home.
KAREN BREWSTER: So you worked 7:00 to 3:00?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: I worked 7:00 to 3:00.
KAREN BREWSTER: And then other shifts, there was a nurse on staff? ELAINE RITSCHARD: There was always a nurse on staff. No. Sorry. No. I was the only RN in that unit. The others were nurses aides. But they were well trained. And they had had longer term experience with these children before I came. They kept the same staff. They hired new ones because they needed more because of the activities were increased and the driving and the visiting out in the community, they hired about six more people for that one-year period; and it wasn't a whole year, it was the period before the kids started going out into the community or back to Alaska or whatever they -- back to the families. No, they didn't go to families. Let me see, where did -- where did they go. They went to foster homes.
KAREN BREWSTER: Or halfway houses or something?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Uh-hum. Section 10:
KAREN BREWSTER: So some -- there was some people who worked for Morningside for a very long time?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Yes. Yeah. They were there a long time. All of those aides were there long before I came. They were there a long time. That one couple left, the one couple that were in charge of the children left. But there were long-term -- long-term help in the -- in the gardens, gardeners, and landscape people and patient care people. They were long-term. They were there a long time. And there were new ones. By the way, the young lady that contacted me that found your note on the Internet, Calnek, Sue Calnek, she was there short term, but she was there with me in that unit. Have you interviewed her?
BILL SCHNEIDER: We haven't. We haven't. We were in touch with her. We've talked with her. And she --
ELAINE RITSCHARD: She might have something to say. She was not trained before she came there in psychiatric care or even as a -- I don't -- I don't think she had any experience in hospital care, but she was good. She was very responsible.
I'm trying to think if there's anybody else. I probably could find another RN for you by calling out to somebody from my classmate getting the name of the -- it's now a former husband. See, they were divorced. But I could probably research and get you another name of another RN.
BILL SCHNEIDER: That would be great.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, what was -- what was Morningside like as an institution to work for as an employee?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: I didn't find any problem. They paid the -- the wages that were common in the area. They did have a lot of staff meetings that I didn't attend. And I told them why I couldn't attend. If there were staff meetings on duty during my working hours, I would go to it. I'd go to the meeting. I didn't find any conflict with what I was doing.
KAREN BREWSTER: It sounds like they were very supportive of your new techniques.
ELAINE RITSCHARD: They were supportive of that -- of that children's unit. And that's the one I was mostly involved with. They were supportive, and they gave us everything we needed. Except I did question some of the private patients, but none -- none of the Alaskan, I don't remember any of those. Those children were -- were so limited and they were little babies. They were little. They just needed nurturing and loving and caring. And if they -- if they got out into a system where they didn't receive it, they'd be lost. And if they did, I don't know it and I'm sure they did.
But I didn't follow up because it wasn't my responsibility. And I couldn't have done anything about it anyway. It was all state handled, welfare system handled, foster care home handled, and -- and I wouldn't have anything to do with that. I had a special job to do and I -- I just did it. Section 11:
KAREN BREWSTER: What about the other units, the other wards? Do you know what was going on in those?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Well, in all those other wards out there on the grounds, they were run more -- run more residential. Those people -- those patients were more active. And the ones that weren't active -- and they provided games for them, played checkers, played cards, saw movies, they provided movies for them, movie night.
You kind of had to -- to watch their behavior because they were child-like. They weren't acting as full adults either, because they weren't that kind of a patient or person. They were limited in -- in their activities, too. So they had to be treated -- say you had a house full of kids, how will you take care of them. You'd set up structure for them, see that they were fed and bathed and entertained. That's about it. Saw that they got their medicines first thing in the morning. Kept them on a strict schedule with their medication care. Then they'd be -- you could handle them then. But they were children. Those were not -- I say they were adults. I called them adults, they were children. Except the geriatrics, and then they were limited because of the former treatment. But those Alaskans were children. When you -- when you think of the type of patient they were, they weren't the ones to go out and drive a truck or -- or to go out and shop in a store alone. They weren't someone that could take the responsibility of cooking a meal. That wasn't that kind of a patient. Section 12:
BILL SCHNEIDER: There are kind of conflicting images of Morningside. There are the accounts such as you've just given, and then there's stories from the Alaskan side of people being shipped out for spurious reasons, you know. Someone didn't like the behavior of someone else, or there was an argument or something, and it would be a legal thing where the judge would make a decision and it would be -- they'd be sent off to Morningside, and the story being that they never returned. How much of that occurred, we don't know. It's --
ELAINE RITSCHARD: I don't know either.
BILL SCHNEIDER: It's certainly good to hear your accounts because it provides another angle to this -- to the story. ELAINE RITSCHARD: I don't think there was a lot of supervision or follow-up to the patients there from the Alaskan side. I don't think that was ever done.
If things happened, I don't think -- first of all, I didn't see it. First of all, I didn't -- I wasn't aware that any of these things you were telling me occurred. I don't know that that happened. If it was something that I thought was destructive to the patient, I would have said something and I wouldn't have been there. I wouldn't have even worked there if these -- if there was anything that was harmful to the patient or the patient that I didn't think was getting good care, I wouldn't be there.
The -- the part that I didn't like was in the private section when I saw the children going back into an abusive home. That, I -- that I wouldn't like. I didn't like the part of hearing the abuse of some of the Alaskan children, I didn't like that, but they had no part with what they got at Morningside. They were getting good care. They were getting the care that a child would get at that level of ability. I heard some stories of abandonment from the Alaskan parents, abuse of alcohol was number one. Birth defects from abuse and from alcohol problems. These children were damaged before we got them. And what level they rose to, able to birth -- potty train, feed themselves, dress themselves, play, do what they could do was as at a level as they could go. That was as high as they could go.
Like I say, they were -- they had a schoolhouse on the property, they had a teacher, they could learn until about the third-grade level. Even the adults over -- I called them adults, they were limited to third-grade education. They were not able to function like a fully educated or structured citizen that could take care of themselves. They were limited. And then the families, I didn't see anybody giving them any attention from Alaska. Okay.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Okay.
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Okay. KAREN BREWSTER: Have we covered everything that you had in your mind?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: I think so. I enjoyed my job. I thought those little kids were wonderful. And I did what I was supposed to do, and that's the end of it.
KAREN BREWSTER: And what did you go on to do after you left Morningside?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Oh, I've had 45 years of nursing. I went to -- into industrial nursing. I worked for Kaiser Hospital my last ten years as a -- before an infectious disease man. Believe it or not, when we got the ranch in Central Oregon, I -- I did veterinary work, didn't I, Brad? Giving animals and cows and horses shots.
I worked at the Veterans Hospital for a couple years trying to get my responsibility for the Army that I discovered I was into. They required three years in a Veterans Hospital to pay them back for their -- they paid for my education. So I worked a couple years at the Veterans Hospital. KAREN BREWSTER: Maybe you said but why did you decide to leave Morningside?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Well, it was closing.
KAREN BREWSTER: Closing. Okay.
ELAINE RITSCHARD: And it didn't have anything that I wanted to stay with.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Okay. Let's end.
Elaine Ritschard - Tape #ORAL HISTORY 2006-15-22-tp1
Elaine Ritschard was interviewed by Bill Schneider and Karen Brewster on April 20, 2010 at Summerset Lodge retirement community in Gladstone, Oregon, a suburb of Portland, where she currently lives. Elaine worked as a nurse at Morningside Hospital in the 1960s, first on the emergency unit and later she was head nurse of the children's ward where she established a kids activity center. In this interview, Elaine talks about becoming a nurse, balancing her work and home life, and conditions, patient treatment, and staff relations at Morningside Hospital. Her son, Brad, a recently retired police officer, joined in on part of the interview, but mostly he just listened.
Part two of this interview.
Click to section:
Section 1: Personal background, childhood, education, marriage and family life.
Section 2: Her early employment history working as a nurse.
Section 3: Working at Morningside Hospital in the emergency section, and the early years of giving patients medication.
Section 4: Description of the physical layout of Morningside Hospital and the patient care and work program, and working in the emergency section of the hospital where police would bring acute cases from the community.
Section 5: Observations about the patients and the type of care provided at Morningside Hospital, and long-term situation with Alaskan patients.
Section 6: Observations about why patients lost contact and did not return to Alaska.
Section 7: Stories about some of the patients, types of ailments patients had and the causes for these, and the type of care provided to the children at Morningside Hospital.
Section 8: Treatment of severe cases in children and her intervention in one particular case.
Section 9: Changes she implemented in treatment of children and use of discipline when she took over the children's unit at Morningside Hospital.
Section 10: Working in the geriatric unit at Morningside Hospital, and the types of activities she initiated for the children.
Section 11: Working with the children to prepare them for integration into the community and bringing in outside programs and music.
Section 12: Relationships between patients at Morningside Hospital, types of activities provided, and observations about the condition of patients.
Section 13: Administration of Morningside Hospital during its last years.
Section 14: Work environment at Morningside Hospital in its later years, and the focus on providing patients the skills for transition to other facilities or into the community.
Section 15: Death and burials at Morningside Hospital, patients records, and status of patients after the hospital's closure.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Okay. Today's April 20th, 2010, Karen Brewster's here and I'm Bill Schneider, and we have the pleasure today of talking to Elaine Ritschard. And we're here just south of Portland at the place where she's staying. And what's the name of this place?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Summerset Lodge. BILL SCHNEIDER: Summerset Lodge. Yes. A nice retirement home. So thank you for taking the time to talk with us.
I'd like to start by having you talk a little bit about your background, where you grew up, and your parents and some of your early schooling.
ELAINE RITSCHARD: All right. I grew up in Gresham, Oregon. I went to Gresham High School, grade school. I married the young man I met in high school, we were married 58 years. His family is from Switzerland, my family's from Norka, Russia. I'm a German -- Volga German. I attended Emmanuel Hospital School of Nursing, got my degree in nursing from University of Oregon and Emmanuel Hospital, Bachelor of Science. I worked 45 years in my profession. I have five children. I adopted two, so I raised seven. I think I was chosen for the position at Morningside because I was a mother of five. And my husband was a outdoorsman. He was a policeman for the City of Portland, lieutenant. I have 20 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. And they are teachers, social workers, counselors, registered nurses, businessmen, and they are all around me, within 15 to 20 minutes away. We're a very close family. And my elder son was a Vietnam War veteran and passed away two months after my husband. He was injured and he lived with us for 30 years, and he took the death of my husband very seriously. We had a ranch in Central Oregon and we had that ranch because of my profession and my husband's profession and my children's profession, they needed a place to go to have an R and R, so we bought 200 acres of land and built a ranch. And they came constantly to relax, ride horses, catch the cows, hike, fish, hunt, whatever. And then when we came back to Portland, it was because my husband got too old to lift those bales of hay. And we came back and he passed away six years after we came back, and I'm here now. And I'm enjoying it. Section 2:
What else would you like to know?
BILL SCHNEIDER: Well, when did you have your first nursing job?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: My first nursing job was in California. My husband was in the Marines from the Second World War, and we -- I graduated from nurses training on the 1st of August and we got married on the 8th. Believe it or not, I was in the Army and didn't know it. When I signed up to go into nurses training, the recruiters came as supervisors of nurses from the different hospitals, in 1944. And recruited nurses to fill the hospitals that were emptying out because of the war. And I signed all these papers, I didn't see the small print. And I ended up being in the Army but fortunately, the Army did not take married women or women with children, so when I married and had all these children, I was exempt. But my husband was in California to finish his service, and I took my state boards in California, in Los Angeles, and it was the first national state boards that were given to nurses. This gave us reciprocity to work in any state without having to take the individual state tests. So that was very fortunate.
So I worked my first year Santa Ana, California. Then I came back to Oregon, and I worked for the Red Cross. And the first place I worked was in the Contagious Diseases Hospital here, and it was polio epidemics. And I worked in iron lungs and Sister Kenny hot packs, and that lasted about a year before the polio sugar cubes came in. And so then I worked there about two years and I worked for the Red Cross and traveled around Oregon, Washington, Idaho for the blood drives, drawing blood. And my husband decided that wasn't a good idea, to have me driving around all over, so here I am back in Oregon. And I started -- we lived close to Morningside Hospital, that's why I chose Morningside. I was within a couple miles, one mile of Morningside Hospital, our first home that we bought. My husband went to college, and entered Portland University, and he became -- he has a masters in education. And he did some teaching. My husband's had three retirements. He was a very active man. But I just kept working to pay for all of this. So all these kids, too, went to college. And so mom just kept working, in between children. I stopped a year every time I'd have one, and then I'd go back. Section 3:
And I went to Morningside Hospital with the idea that it was close at hand, and it was the job that I took after the infectious diseases and the Red Cross jobs. And I worked in -- I didn't start in the pediatric department at Morningside, I started in the emergency section. Now, the emergency section was the intake ward for the people in the community that needed acute care, emergency care, the police would bring them in off the street out of the hos -- out of the homes that were in a mental health crisis. That was the emergency. That's your big building that you see right in the front there. And those were always brought in as an emergency or a short term. And they had cells, locked cells. And that was also the treatment unit.
Now, remember this. My time at Morningside was less than ten years since the beginning of medication treatment for mental health. All of my background came from on hands, like your electric shock, your insulin shock, your water therapy. All these things that I was trained for in nurses training was not medication, but coming to Morning -- Morningside, they had already had the medications, but they were not stabilized yet. They were still -- medications were limited what you use, what they -- what was available, and limited to what the people, the doctors even knew, how they would respond to the medication. And some of the mental health medications gave some of our patients Parkinson symptoms. Parkinson Disease. So they had to be careful with the dosage, the length of time. They were still learning on medication.
So when people came in, in an emergency type of situation, we gave them Thorazine right away because that was the one that was available first. And -- and more stable for us to use. But this was the short term. Section 4:
Now, the Alaskan patients were already there when I arrived. They had been there for quite a few years. And by the way, Morningside Hospital was built by Henry Coe, Dr. Henry Coe from England. And the first -- first hospital was on Military Butte just west of I-205 here in Portland. And then he moved out here to Morningside, and it was a farm. It was a -- they grew vegetables, they had orchards, and they had beautiful park-like environment around them to walk.
And something interesting was by the time I got there, most of the patients were residential. They had been treated with medicine, they were stable enough to be out on their own outdoors during the day, if they were interested.
But a lot of the patients were sitting because they had to be motivated at this point. The ones that were outside were workers. They worked in the gardens, they worked in the farm. They did a lot of landscaping. They did the picking of the fruit. They did the harvesting of the vegetables. And our kitchens used all of those vegetables. So the Alaskan patients were outside doing that sort of thing at their own speed. And some of them got taken to shopping centers. They always got escorted to doctors. The young people that I saw, the Alaskan ones, were just strolling through the park and walking and visiting with each other during the day. At night, we locked all complexes. So my first experience at Morningside was the emergency section. And that was pretty traumatic. But something interesting happened. If a policeman would come in and that patient was under -- was immobilized maybe by handcuffs or whatever, even a straitjacket, he'd come in and he'd take everything off; and us nurses, now, we had white uniforms, white hats, and all we had to say is, we'd like to help you. Would you come with us, please. And they came very willingly. They were fighting with the police, there were traumatic incidents on the streets, that's why they were brought in, but when we met them at the door and said, come with us, we want to help you, they came without a -- I never had any problem with any of them. And that was interesting. Well, one I did. But we won't go there. But anyway, that -- that was an interesting thing. They came in and they knew they needed help. So -- now, that was community at Multnomah County, had that system with Morningside. And it was the Multnomah County people that brought their emergencies in. This was in 19 -- well, I -- I came in 1960, so it was from 1960 until it closed its doors, they were using the emergency section for the cases on the street or in the homes. Section 5:
Now, the Alaskan patients were limited when I got there. Many had already been taken to Alaska, or they were in our system.
I remember four wards outside the main hospital. There was a ward of young adults, male and female. There were two different ones. One male, one female. And the age bracket probably was some 16 -- I would say 16 to 50. And they were different levels of abilities.
Some could -- some had -- by the way, we had a school on the grounds. It was a little red schoolhouse. Portland Number 1 provided the teacher, she was full time. And there she had about 10 students at a time. Most of the students were only educable to the third grade. By the time I got there, the people that had been educated before I came were at a different level, but I didn't know them; and I didn't work at those two units, so I didn't have a lot of experience with them. But they were the ones that worked in the gardens, worked in the lawns, worked in the landscaping. And were free to come and go. But you know, they never left the grounds unless they were escorted. They never wandered away, they were content. Some worked in the kitchens. Some helped with children. Some young girls worked with the kitchen and worked with us with the children. Very nice, very easy to get along with. It was low key. They seemed content. BILL SCHNEIDER: So you -- just a bit of clarification. You were saying that they entered our system. Do you mean the Oregon Welfare System?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Yes.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Would you explain how that worked. ELAINE RITSCHARD: Well, I don't know. I just know that in the following years that I was working in other areas, I ran into some of the patients in the nursing homes from -- the Alaskan patients that I recognized that were young adults or teenagers. And they were in nursing homes. But you have to remember that the people that were left at Morningside when I arrived were really very limited in their ability to function without some kind of help. This is the children's area I'm speaking of. The two wards I told you about where they were men and women wards, they were more active, but not able to cope with society without some kind of a structured environment. They would need to be -- those would go into group homes, into foster homes. No, not foster homes because they were too old. Some kind of supervision.
So if they got into apartments without supervision, that's where we lost them. But they were hired by different places, like I say, Goodwill. And they did find them jobs, like washing dishes or some kind of job that would give them an income, but the welfare was supporting them and giving them an income because they were now belonging to Oregon instead of Alaska, they belonged to Oregon because they had been residents in Oregon a long time. Section 6:
So they -- they established residency in Oregon by being here so long. And if they chose not to go back to Alaska and there were not family members or somewhere for them to go in Alaska, they stayed here. It was their choice to.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Were they given that choice? They were asked if they --
ELAINE RITSCHARD: If they were to make that choice. You've got to remember, this is -- this is -- it varied, wide vari -- variation of the type of patient they were or the type of resident they were.
The ones that could stay and have responsibility, they put them in the places where they could function. If they didn't, they'd also have to be in a place where they could be taken care of; but when Oregon closed all the institutions, they had no place to go. And if some tried to live on their own, they would fall by the wayside. The ones that chose to go back to Alaska had someplace to go in Alaska.
I will be very honest with you, I was there seven to eight years, and I don't remember any patient being visited by relatives, receiving letters from relatives, Christmas cards from relatives. When they came here, they were alone. These patients did not have continued connection with Alaska except by financial means and what Morningside gave them as a home.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Why do you think that was? ELAINE RITSCHARD: Well, it was a type of patient that I saw. Now, remember, I was the tail end. So that they were left here to be cared for. So they were in Morningside because there was no one in Alaska that connected with them where they could go back to. And I'll be -- I will tell you why. The children -- I'm only speaking of the children, I didn't work with the adults, but I think there were some of them -- they were birth defects, alcohol syndrome children, illness, injuries. They were very limited in what they could do without structured care, the children needed to have care.
I believe that the young people in those other two units were the same way, but they had -- they were taught how to take care of themselves, brush their teeth, dress themselves, eat well. They had good manners. Socialize with the people within their units. They were considerate, they -- they took care of each other.
That's one thing I did see. The -- the ones in the two units would come over and love to play with the children and take care of them. They stuck together. There was a cohesiveness about the Alaskan Natives. Now, I'm speaking of the Natives. I had very few Alaskans that were not Natives that didn't go back.
So the children that I saw and the patients that I saw were people with limited resources within themselves that could function by themselves. BILL SCHNEIDER: But I'm wondering about the people back in Alaska; you said that there were very few visitors.
ELAINE RITSCHARD: I believe that those families were already fragmented. I believe that those families already had problems of their own. I believe they came from families that didn't have structures that could support them anyway, or they wouldn't be down there. If they were Natives, they always took care of their own. They took care of their own in ways that they could do it. If they -- if these children got away from them and got down into Morningside, it's because they didn't have anybody. Or nobody that was interested. Because in all the background, a lot of these children had grandmothers that took them in. Aunts and uncles, they were -- they -- just like they showed up here taking care of the children in the units where I worked, they would love to take care of the children -- they stuck together. But it's because these children had no one. Or they didn't have anyone that was able to take care of them, they had problems of their own in Alaska. They were -- just didn't have the facilities or the family life-style that could take care of that kind of a child. So the families didn't show up, didn't keep letters. They probably were thankful they were safe and were taken care of, too. And they didn't have the means to get down here and visit them. They didn't have the education. They didn't have the background that said, oh, let's write them a nice letter or go out and buy some cards and send it to them. They didn't have that. We didn't -- we had limited connection with the families in Alaska. Section 7:
There were some patients that were very remarkable. I remember one woman that was a princess Inupiat. I-N-U -- is it -- from Barrow, up in the North. She was a princess. And she went out hunting with her husband, and her husband disappeared on the ice floes, and she had to walk through the ice and cold and snow back to her village or where she came from. And by the time she got back to her village, her feet were frozen.
And when we got her -- now, remember, this is long before I came, but she was there, her feet were gone, but they had prostheses and shoes. And she never complained. She was dignified. She was very quiet. But she actually worked in the kitchen. And her story was such a -- to me, I -- I felt very -- she was heroic. I just -- I felt good about that.
There was a lot of abuse in some children. Children locked in closets, children starving, this is histories that we read on their charts. The diagnosis for these children was varied. There was some schizophrenic, some birth defects, some autistic. Our job was just to make them ready to function as much as they could in the environment they were going to live in. So I don't think I'll go into a lot of the patient histories. That's too -- that's too hard to talk about. But some of it was very traumatic because of the violence of the environment that they lived in. Dark nights, cold. What, no sun for 87 days or something, and darkness. By the way, they -- the doctors did say that this contributed to a lot to the patient's depression and alcoholism. I don't know what -- you'd want to go with that, but that was something that the doctors did assume that the environment and the darkness and the wilderness and -- was contributing to the alcoholism and the depression. BILL SCHNEIDER: How did you treat those conditions?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Now, I'm only going to speak to -- about the -- the children. Because it was such a wide variety of children, each one was treated individually. When I first arrived there, in 1963, they had a house mother and a house dad. And it was set up like a home. They were taught to get up, brush their teeth, get dressed. And they didn't treat them as individual mental health patients. They treated them as family. Children in the family. And the older children were assigned to the younger children to help them. Just like an older sister would help a younger sister.
They would also have them go to the dining -- we always went to the dining rooms. We walked to the dining room. All patients did, by the way. Even the outlying wards, they walked to the dining room. It was through the -- through the park-like setting. The ones that could not, if they were disabled, they had trays delivered to them. But I would say that was limited to maybe only two or three, and sometimes only periodically. So the children would be gotten up, bathed, dressed, toothbrushes, teach -- oh, by the way, potty trained. A lot had to be potty trained. A lot of them were in diapers. Section 8:
There was one unit that we had was for severely damaged children, it was a padded room. The bed was on the floor, and I remember walking into the unit the first week I was there and seeing this young man, young boy, about 12 to 13, all alone in that padded room sleeping on the pad. That was his bed. There was not another thing in the room. Well, I didn't like the looks of that. So I investigated what that was. And it was a disciplinary area when he was harming other children or himself, because the room had to be padded, the floor and everything. And he was -- he couldn't even be given a bed because he would hurt himself in the bed springs or whatever. So after I was there about a week or two, I decided to go in and sit with him. I -- I kind of observed how he would behave. He didn't like to eat, he threw things, the food -- you had to give him food on paper cups and paper dishes because he would harm himself or harm somebody else. And I took a radio from my home and found music that was music of nature, like waterfalls, birds singing, whatever. And I found the station that this was on, and I'd go in and sit with this young man. And not for very long. I started, what, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, whatever. And he responded to the music. And I don't have to say anything, we'd just sit there quitely, let him respond.
He started eating. He started -- not -- he never did communicate, but at least he was quiet. He could sleep. He could eat. He was soothing. And I did that for about two weeks, and then I assigned my helpers.
I had a lot of help. Morningside gave me a lot of help. I had at least eight caregivers, a male and female, young man, young women, and they were wonderful. They -- they took care of these children beautifully. Section 9:
By the way, I replaced the mother and father image. They were stronger in discipline. They got their work done, but they were doing some things that I had the choice to change.
One of them was they used food as discipline. Like if the child wouldn't do something, they held back their lunch, or held back their treat, or held back -- they didn't get to go to the dining room to eat. Well, I didn't like that. I thought, huh-um, I'm stuck with how I took care of my own kids. You can sit them on a chair. You can sit them in the corner.
One of my sons complained that he wondered if his nose would ever grow because he was in the -- in the corner, standing in the corner in the kitchen so much, that was Christopher.
[to her son, Brad, who is observing the interview] It wasn't you, dear. It was Christopher. But I started using the same techniques on my -- as I used on my children as I did on these children. And I felt it was much more -- well, it satisfied me.
I just didn't like the looks of that young man in that room. I didn't like the looks of the kids not going to the -- to the cafeteria to eat and -- or holding their food back. That didn't sound good to me. So those things I liked. And they responded. And believe it or not, 20 years later I heard on the radio about this new treatment for children using music. And I thought, ha. I did that 20 years earlier.
BILL SCHNEIDER: What was the reaction amongst other staff to what you were doing?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Very, very good. Now, the staff in my unit. By the way, Lynette McCoy and Helen Nigh were the superintendent of nurses, and superintendent at Morningside Hospital, all nurses were under them. All nurses aides, all caregivers of all kinds. Orderlies, were under Lynette McCoy and Helen Nigh. And they went to Valdez and worked the first year in Valdez until that earthquake. That was 1964, wasn't it?
BILL SCHNEIDER: Uh-hum. ELAINE RITSCHARD: So the earthquake, I don't know what happened because I didn't keep a connection there, but they came back, I think in 1965. Was your hospital rebuilt in another section?
BILL SCHNEIDER: I'm not sure what -- what happened with Harborview, but it was in operation after that.
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Okay. I think they moved it after the earthquake.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah. It was in operation. ELAINE RITSCHARD: But anyway, they were -- my superintendent of nurses went to Valdez and worked as supervising nurses there. It was the supervisor and the assistant. It was Lynette McCoy and Helen Nigh. Section 10:
BILL SCHNEIDER: But I was wondering what the impact was of your, what looks to me like, very progressive treatment.
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Well -- well, I wasn't -- I'll start with the children's unit now. I'll start telling you about the children's unit. First I worked in the emergency section where the -- and then I worked in the geriatric section. Now, those were Alaskans. They weren't all Natives, but they were Alaskans. When I say geriatric, I mean my age today. And they were pretty well regressed. They had had electric shock, they had been in an institution for a long time.
Our role at that point was to motivate them. Get them moving. And to do that, we gave parties, like New Year's Eve, I made them hats, made them march with kettles and bongs and horns. And get them up on their feet and move them around. They were content to sit, just sit. But they walked over to the cafeteria and they ate, and they walked back. That was their exercise. And you can see that the buildings are far enough apart so that it was a nice walk. That was their exercise. So then I worked from the emergency room to the geriatric. Then there was an intake ward where community people started coming in for short term. That's where Dr. Bowerman and Dr. Moss worked. Dr. Stewart was the head of all of them. And there were a couple other doctors, but I don't remember their names at this time. Then the superintendent of nurses, Lynette McCoy, asked me, she said, we have to prepare these children to live in the community. And she said, I'd like you to take over the unit and start getting them ready to move out into the community because these children will be taken care of in homes, foster homes, back in the community, maybe even enter the school system, which you know they did eventually. So she gave me two Volkswagon busses, it held eight people. She gave me a young man and two other nurses aides. And we started planning activities, not only on -- on campus, but out in the community. And I used the same system that I use for my kids. For instance, I would try out a lot of things at home that Brad may remember. Clay, play dough.
There was another system that was really neat. It was whipped Ivory flakes. I don't know if you still get Ivory flakes in the grocery stores, but you can take an Ivory flake with water and it whips up like a whipped cream, but you can make it thicker so the kids can work it with their hands. And you add food coloring to it so you have all kinds of colors, you have a bowl of yellow, bowl of red, bowl of green, whatever. And I tried this out at home. My kids had to experiment with this so I'd know how to do it. And then we'd put them on poster boards or just wooden things.
And Lynette gave me a whole building that used to be a patient care building for the kids to have activities in. Because in Oregon, it rains a lot. So we kept the kids inside, and we started all of these hands-on activities. We had a -- we set up a make-believe grocery store, got all kinds of little cans of things so they could learn how to work in a grocery store.
We set up work tables and they made beautiful pictures with -- you could make a mountain out of this Ivory flakes. You can make skies and stars. And then with their -- and then with their play dough, I've still got the recipe for the play dough because it was made with a lot of salt, flour, powdered alum, and of course, always food coloring. And these kids could make all kinds of things with the play dough. Then there was another thing that I made, it was a -- we called it Jansen Beach. And it was boxes and boards and tires and the kids could walk across bridges and crawl through tunnels. And I just did all kinds of play things that these kids could do. Then they allowed us to go out into the community. We visited schools. We went to shopping centers. We went to grocery stores. We went on picnics up the Columbia River. Rooster Rock, Benson State Park, all the places that I had taken my own family.
And we could take 8 at a time with two busses, there were 16. There was one thing wrong with those busses, those Volkswagon busses. They couldn't go up a hill. They would just chug along. But these kids learned to be out in the community. And that was my role. Section 11:
Now, how they responded to the music and the treatment, they responded to everything. Limited, of course. You've got to remember, these were educable kids, to the age, what were they, in the third grade, 9, 8 or 9. A lot of supervision. Had to hold hands. They'd take off. Had to hold hands. And we always had a system of two hands and the attendants out on the ends.
They had to learn to be quiet. And we learned to do that just by hand, like this. (Indicating finger to the lips.) Or no. (Indicating shaking head.) They responded beautifully. They did have good care, before I was put in the unit. They -- people taught them how to dress. They were potty trained. They ate well. They cleaned up after themselves. They picked up their toys. Morningside provided toys. Morningside provided everything. Everything that other kids got, these kids got. We had people come in from the Girl Scouts, the Boy Scouts. Now, this is where my kids got involved. I brought them over for programs. My kids played -- Heidi played the accordion, and I brought my kids over to interact with them. They had other community services come in. I'd call them and make dates with them, they'd come in just like they bring us music here. We had programs for them. I would say that Morningside did very well for them. For all of the patients. In the beginning, there was limited because we didn't have the medication to give them the ability to function like they were when I arrived. When I arrived, they had had medications for, what, 10 years.
What can I -- what can I -- BILL SCHNEIDER: So that's an interesting point. You -- your -- if I hear what you're saying correctly is that the medications had a big impact on being able to give the residents a greater degree of freedom in terms of adapting to society.
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Correct. Correct.
BILL SCHNEIDER: And before that, they were very limited methods, and -- ELAINE RITSCHARD: And they had their environment had to be very well lock and key; hurt themselves, hurt others. Not after the medication. That took care of a lot of that. However, to keep them on the medication, that was the difficulty that you're seeing now, they still needed a structured environment where those medications could be given so they could take care of themselves. That's where the loss is today. Section 12:
BILL SCHNEIDER: What about interactions between the residents? You mentioned the helping that occurred of older residents with the younger children.
ELAINE RITSCHARD: I don't understand what you're saying.
BILL SCHNEIDER: What were the -- obviously friendships developed between groups. ELAINE RITSCHARD: Yes, but these were young children. But I mentioned that the older ones came over. They were free to come and go, though. There wasn't a regular structured hour that they were there, but they come over and played with the children or join them in their activities, or just sit and read them a book, or just visit with them and play with them. There weren't a lot of them, but by the time I got there, we were limited in -- in how many were left at Morningside.
BILL SCHNEIDER: That's right. That was the --
ELAINE RITSCHARD: The young children got along with each other. If they didn't, they were disciplined. And when I say, for instance, if one child would start hitting the other one, you would treat them just like you would your own child, you don't do that, you sit in that chair or you say your sorry or you -- whatever the -- the behavior was, you took care of it immediately. And the discipline that was given by the couple before I came was very strict. I don't know if they got spankings or not. I don't know that. But I know it was very strict. And I know that these children, by the time I arrived, were well behaved. And if they weren't, we took care of it just like you would your own child. BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah. Amongst the older residents, were there cases where romantic relationships developed between the residents?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: We had to watch that. We had to watch when they were out on the grounds that they didn't get into the bushes. And that was supervision. Just plain supervision. They -- we had a ballpark out back where the gardens were. They could play ball. They could play kick ball. The little kids did, too, like soccer, but it wasn't soccer but just kick ball.
Some of them had bicycles, now that I remember, rode bicycles around on the grounds. A lot of it was work. Kept them pretty busy working, the ones that could. The ones that were sedentary, we had to keep them moving. It was hard to -- but the thing that surprised me is they didn't wander away. They were content. I -- I think I picked up something else. They were content to sit a lot. It was harder to get them to move a good percent of them. It was like they were in a dream world. And I don't think it was all medication. I think it was their former environment. I think they came from a place where they did a lot of sitting and thinking. Or living within their own thoughts. I just feel that they came from a -- I know that they were different in the way they responded to people that were not Natives. They kept things to themselves. They did not open themselves up to share a lot of themselves. They shared with each other. You can see them giggling or laughing or punching each other, you know, or making believe of somebody, look at them, you know, sort of thing. They were -- yes, there was a connection with them. They connected with each other. And they helped each other. And I didn't see a lot of non-Natives by the time I got there. Section 13:
BILL SCHNEIDER: How -- how were the Coes to work with?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: The only one I knew was Henry Coe, Jr. And I tried not to have too much to do with the administration because I didn't always respect the administration for the fact that I saw some discrepancies in what was needed and what was allowed and what was given, and he was having a lot of trouble with financial stability because the hospital was closing. So we had a lot of trouble deciding what to keep and what to let go.
And there was an apartment above the administration buildings where he would stay periodically. And the superintendent of nurses and the assistant took care of all of that. And I didn't have any kind of decision. I didn't -- I stayed away from all the administrative type things. I wasn't interested in that. But as far as what the hospital was set up to do in the beginning by Mr. Henry Coe, the father, was very good. By the time I got there, it was changing in its environment and its hands, but it was still a -- the patients still got good care. They got excellent food because they were using the gardens. The kitchen was done as a cafeteria. It was -- they ate very well. I -- BILL SCHNEIDER: Why -- why did you mention the apartment above the administration?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Because he would come and stay periodically for periods at a time.
BILL SCHNEIDER: And why was that?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: I don't know.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Okay. When -- were you there during the congressional investigation in the mid '50s, I guess that would have been before you? ELAINE RITSCHARD: Well, what year was it?
BILL SCHNEIDER: 1950s, in the '50s years.
ELAINE RITSCHARD: No.
KAREN BREWSTER: What were the exact years you worked at Morningside?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Well, about -- well, 1960 to 1968, but I was off with my youngest daughter, so I was gone for about a year and a half in that period. When I first started was around 1960, but then I was gone for a while, then I came back. It was after I came back that I worked with the children. That was 1963. That's when I came back. But I was gone for a little while there. But I didn't know of any problems. And I made a point not to be interested.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Right.
ELAINE RITSCHARD: My job was taking care of the patient or the children. I didn't -- I didn't bother myself with any of that other stuff. Section 14:
BILL SCHNEIDER: Did you know a Dr. Keller?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: No.
BILL SCHNEIDER: That may have been earlier. But you knew Helen Nigh, you mentioned, and she was influential in endorsing the type of programs that you were trying to -- ELAINE RITSCHARD: Well, actually, Lynette McCoy was. She's the superintendent.
Helen Nigh was the person that was the assistant, and she was more in seeing that we got supplies, got the things that were needed to take care of whatever we needed to take care of. She was -- she took orders from Lynette McCoy. We didn't answer to Helen Nigh, we answered to Lynette McCoy. At least I didn't. I don't know --
BILL SCHNEIDER: And from what you're saying, she was pretty supportive of what you were doing? ELAINE RITSCHARD: Yes. Both of them were. Well, they assigned me there. They came to me and asked me to do it. It was something that they had to set up because it was -- it was getting ready to close, and it was getting ready to move the kids out into the community, and the Alaskan hospital, I believe, was built. And when I was there, they were already flying some of them back, but not as -- I just didn't see that many going back. The ones that I did see go back were maybe 8, and maybe one or two attendants would fly back. I had the opportunity to escort them back, and I -- I -- I didn't because I had my own family and I didn't want to leave my family, so I never escorted any groups back. I don't remember ever being involved in any administrative decision. I just wasn't interested.
BILL SCHNEIDER: But it would be interesting for us to talk to Helen Nigh and Lynette.
ELAINE RITSCHARD: I don't believe they are alive. They were already older than I was by maybe five to ten years. Lynette McCoy's family, however -- I did check the phone book to see if I could find either name in the phone book. Their -- when they came back from Alaska, they had a home in -- on the mountain near Welches. And I was invited to an outdoor gathering when they came back from Alaska, and my husband and I did attend. All the old superintendents and nurses and people that worked for them were invited. And my husband and I did go. We did drive out to Welches. That's the last I saw of them or had connection with them. But Helen Nigh was from the South of Florida, and Lynette McCoy's family were right here in Portland. She went to Reed College. So -- but I didn't find them in the phone book. I didn't find that name at all. So I couldn't check on that. Section 15:
BILL SCHNEIDER: Do you know where the people were buried who passed away at Morningside?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: No. No.
BILL SCHNEIDER: How were burials handled?
ELAINE RITSCHARD: I didn't see anybody die. I never knew anybody passed away. BILL SCHNEIDER: Do you have any information on the patient records? You mentioned they entered the Oregon Welfare System, many of the people at the time, when --
ELAINE RITSCHARD: No. Once they got into the welfare system, I only ran into them because I was in nursing.
And I did hear that someone adopted some children in Vancouver, and then in Onalaska, in Washington, there's a town called Onalaska in Washington. And I know one family adopted five Alaskan Native children. And I only heard that as a passing remark, but I told them I used to work at Morningside, and I never followed up on it or paid any attention.
But I did run into the patients in the nursing homes when I was working for a friend of mine that had a nursing home. I ran into a couple of them there. But I never followed up on any welfare. I was too busy with my own family. And I had other jobs.
I went from there into Providence Hospital and so I didn't follow up on -- when I left Morningside, I didn't -- I didn't follow up on anything. That was -- Morningside was -- was still going when I left because they were taking community patients. They were taking private patients when I was there in that children's department, I had private patients from Multnomah County, children. And then the police were bringing in from Multnomah County, too, in the emergency section. That all happened after the children and the Alaskans went home. But as far as anybody -- I don't remember anybody ever passing away. But then I -- you've got to remember when I was there. It was at the tail end of Morningside. And it was sold to a -- it's a -- it's a shopping center, mall 205 is a shopping center. I did see one shed or building in the back when I drove down through -- let's see, Seventh Day Adventist Hospital meets the back end of the property, I saw an old shed still standing on the property that was there. But it had a school on it, it had barns, it had -- it was a -- it was a farm. And I know that they all worked there, I know that the Alaskan patients. But we called them residents by the time I got there; they weren't even patients, they were residents.
BILL SCHNEIDER: I just keep thing about the older people, not in the children's ward, but the --
ELAINE RITSCHARD: The geriatric unit?
BILL SCHNEIDER: Well, that, yeah, and -- and where they might have ended up.
ELAINE RITSCHARD: In nursing homes.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Oh. ELAINE RITSCHARD: That geriatric unit went into -- if there was no one in Alaska that took them back, or called for them, they went into nursing homes. And I don't remember any of them ever passing away while I was there. They went into nursing homes.
BILL SCHNEIDER: So in terms of families tracing those people, it would be very hard, wouldn't it? But nursing homes -- ELAINE RITSCHARD: Yes. I would suggest they go -- I don't know what kind of a system the welfare system has, if they keep records or not. Does Alaska keep good records in their welfare system?
BILL SCHNEIDER: I don't know how good their records are.
ELAINE RITSCHARD: Well, I don't know what Portland -- or Oregon does, or the -- or even the county, but you'd have to go there, look at their records, and -- I don't know how you'd do it. I guess by the year. It would be 19 -- it would be 1963, the era would be '60 to '63, the years that they would be going into the nursing homes. Children would be foster homes. Adoptions.
I'll be very honest with you, I don't remember many going back to Alaska. They were lost in our system, in our welfare system.
BILL SCHNEIDER: I think that's probably true. ELAINE RITSCHARD: And I don't know how the families would find them except trying to find records from the -- from the state welfare system.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Uh-hum. Are there any parts of your experiences at Morningside that I haven't touched on or we haven't touched on that -- that you think are important for the record? Are there any memorable experiences that we ought to know? ELAINE RITSCHARD: I don't think any that would be helpful to the families or to you.
I was -- I was surprised at the type of children that were kept in -- in a hospital setting that were microcephalic, hydrocephalic, limited, so limited that they were only kept alive with tube feeding. They were picked up out of those cribs and rocked. They were dressed. They had zero response to their environment. Zero. And they were kept alive with IVs, with tube feeding. There were about eight of them. I couldn't believe that type of patient was there in that environment. There was about eight.
And we had special duty nurses that would care for them night and day. The ones that did respond were still going to respond only to limited amount of activity and education. Even the people that adopted them, but they are in our school system today, because my daughter-in-law takes care of them in the schools today. Brad's wife. So they are in our system.
BILL SCHNEIDER: I want to change the tape and I have a couple more questions.