This is a continuation of the interview with Elaine Ritschard by Bill Schneider and Karen Brewster on April 20, 2010 at Summerset Lodge retirement community in Gladstone, Oregon.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Alaska Mental Health Trust History
Date of Interview: Apr 20, 2010
Narrator(s): Elaine Ritschard
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider, Karen Brewster
Transcriber: Carol McCue
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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.
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Section 1: 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.