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Atascadero State Hospital marks 60-year anniversary

Atascadero State Hospital
Atascadero State Hospital dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Atascadero State Hospital is celebrating six decades of work in the community this week.

The facility first opened its doors on June 20, 1954.

On Thursday, the state hospital will host a rededication ceremony for its 60th anniversary at 10:30 a.m. for current and former employees, along with public officials, at its campus in south Atascadero.

Officials from the Atascadero City Council, Atascadero Chamber of Commerce and the hospital advisory board will be in attendance, along with representatives from the Department of State Hospitals in Sacramento.

ASH, one of five state hospitals treating mentally ill violent offenders, has nearly 2,000 employees, which makes it one of the largest employers in San Luis Obispo County.

Its goal is to treat patients with medication, therapy and daily programs so offenders can return to trial or prison within an average of six months.

According to Tribune archives, the facility was first designed to obtain maximum security without typical prison features like barbed-wire fences and cell blocks. In its early days, patient choirs and bands often went into the community to perform, patients rode in the city’s Colony Days Parade and also freely wondered the grounds to feed pigs and milk cows.

Since then, the facility has formed stricter security protocols. It's also faced issues involving patient violence that continue to be addressed through safety reform legislation today.

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