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Source -- The West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia -- Volume 20 -- Pages 4455-4456
Author -- Edited and published by Jim Comstock - Richwood, West Virginia
Date ---- 1976

Spencer State Hospital, located on a 180-acre tract in Spencer, Roane County, was authorized by the Legislature in 1887 and formally opened in 1893. Having its own water and power supply, the hospital serves an eight county area. An additional 295 acres located two miles from the hospital are used for a recreational area for the patients as well as a water shed for the dam.

Geographic relocation of patients has been completed, with patients from a county or group of counties located in a manner providing a home and community relationship within the hospital. Specialized units are maintained for the physically ill and infirm alcoholic treatment programs, Medicare and Medicaid patients, and rehabilitation programs.

The hospital operates under the open door policy, with approximately 76% of the patients residing in open wards. No mechanical restraints are employed, and all forms of psychiatric treatment such as psychotherapy, electronconvulsive therapy, chemotherapy, milieu therapy, remotivation and group therapy, family counseling, industrial therapy, religious counseling and active occupational and recreational therapy are utilized. A new program, a class in remotivation for patients, has been in effect in the hospital.

Spencer has the largest alcoholic treatment unit of any of the state institutions, has a dental unit and x-ray department, and offers electrocardiogram and laboratory services. The hospital utilizies a camping program, designed to create self-help and provide patient responsibility through outdoor activities. This program has become one of the outstanding therapeutic programs in the modern treatment of the mentally ill.

Opportunity Hall, a unit for emotionally disturbed adolescents between 13 and 19 years of age, was opened in 1972. It is equipped with a medication and a treatment team in addition to a project director, psychiatric nurse and a social worker. Adolescents functioning below the average range of intelligence are accepted if they have average intellectual potential.

See sup. vol. 10-11, p. 365; sup. vol. 14, p. 169.

Sup. Vol. 10-11, page 365 :

The Spencer State Hospital (open 1-4 p.m., Mon., Tues., Thurs., Sat.), corner W. 2nd and State Sts., was authorized in 1887 to relieve overcrowded conditions at the Weston State Hospital, but was not opened until 1893. Towers and cupolas surmount the four-story main building, which is connected by glass-enclosed bridges with two three-story ward buildings and a three-story dining annex. The solemn red brick buildings strung together in a straight line resemble battlements, pierced by iron-studded embrasures for arquebus and bow, defiantly rearing their bulk across the path of an invader. Other structures on the 184-acre tract, which overlooks the city, are a power house, conservatory, laundry, farm and work buildings, and cottages for the resident doctors and the superitendent. The institution cares for 900 patients.

West of Spencer US 33 circles through close-cropped pasture land, broken here and there by gas wells or compressor stations. Few crops are planted, as each farm has gas wells to provide the farmer a steady income. Fat, red-and-white Hereford beeves are driven along the roads to the livestock markets at Spencer, as are tawny Jerseys and spotted Guernseys, and heavy-flanked Scottish Ayrshires, white as the milk they give. Rich black earth in the creek bottoms is turned by plowshares drawn by magnificent workhorses, broad-shouldered Percherons and heavy-flanked Belgians, some of which weigh almost a ton. Split-rail fences divide the pasture land into even squares. The countryside exudes comfortable well-being and a sense of security based on the little black iron pipe mountings visible in the pasture lands, signs of throttled gas wells.

Sup. Vol. 14, page 169 :

"One Thousand Questions"

#546. Overcrowded conditions at the Weston State Hospital made it necessary for the state to establish a similar institution in what town?


#546. Spencer

[Apr 1999 - pb]

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