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An abusive place now become a caring place - hopefully

Posted Oct 22 2008 4:32pm

One of the nation's most notorious psychiatric hospitals - where abuse and carelessness were once considered the norm, and where a famous patient, folk singer Woodie Guthrie, met Bob Dylan - has reopened.

New Jersey officials recently showed off the new Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital during an afternoon ceremony. Governor Corzine called the new $200 million facility symbolic of how the state's mental health system has evolved.

The 450-bed facility will replace aging buildings long plagued by shoddy conditions. Here are some other age-old problems with the facility, as reported by The New York Times:

- It's been long criticized as substandard and plagued by a rash of escapes and assaults on patients.

- Built in 1876, the hospital has been criticized over the last quarter-century by state judges and lawmakers as offering less than ideal care to its mentally ill patients.

- Its environment, in the physical and psychological sense, was once said to ''strain the meaning of humane.''

- During unannounced visits, committee investigators found some patients sitting idle in day rooms without lamps, reading materials or games. Others slept on floors.

- Some had no access to soap or toilet paper, and 44 more had to share four toilets because other toilets were broken.

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