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Camarillo’s Last Group of Patients Moving Out

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Camarillo State Hospital’s remaining 24 patients will move to other mental health facilities today, signaling an end to the saga that has surrounded the closure of the 60-year-old mental hospital.

With all of the lawsuits aimed at stalling the hospital’s closure now resolved, its last patients will be moved today and the facility will officially close June 30.

California State University officials, who expect to take over the hospital after it shuts down, said they are pushing ahead with a proposal to convert the hospital into Ventura County’s first public university.

“We are still going ahead with planning as we have been,” said Mary Stephens, CSU’s executive project manager.

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Like many of the approximately 800 patients who have been transferred from the hospital since mid-April, most of today’s transfers will go to other state facilities, although a small number will be placed in community programs.

Once all patients have been moved, officials will concentrate on meeting the deadline for other aspects of the hospital’s closure, said Ana Pavin, an executive assistant.

“After the residents leave, we have to move a lot of equipment and clean the whole facility,” Pavin said.

Last month, the hospital’s June 30 closure date looked as if it might have to be extended. At that time, a group of parents won a court order to keep the hospital open until state officials could provide assurance that a handful of remaining patients would not be harmed by moving to a new facility.

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On June 3, all the parents seeking the court order agreed to the transfer of the remaining patients.

“The plaintiffs’ attorney agreed to have all of the patients moved, so the injunction [court order] was rendered mute,” said Deputy Atty. Gen. Richard Waldow.

Waldow speculated that the parents agreed to the transfers after realizing that the court order would not stop the facility from eventually closing.

The same group of parents had filed a lawsuit in March alleging that the hospital closure would violate state and federal law and irreparably harm the patients.

Upon granting the court order last month, Los Angles Superior Court Judge Diane Dwayne said: “I’m not trying to keep the hospital open forever, but if it costs the state some money to save some lives, so be it. I’m not going to let the hospital close until I know everyone is safe.”

The hospital has been the center of controversy since last year when Gov. Wilson ordered its closure and formed a task force to explore the uses for the 750-acre property between Camarillo and Oxnard.

The task force recommended that the hospital be converted into a Cal State campus.


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