The Oregon Department of Human Services granted a certificate of need Wednesday for a new 36-bed psychiatric hospital to be located at the site of a former Cedar Hills Hospital, essentially granting permission for the hospital.

Ascend Health, a private, for-profit corporation based in New York, applied for permission from the Oregon Department of Human Services to turn the abandoned hospital at 10300 S.W. Eastridge St. into a new inpatient facility for people suffering from mental illness.

Three of the Portland area's largest hospital systems and the lobbying organization for Oregon hospitals asked the state to reject an application when it called for a 77-bed psychiatric hospital. The state's certificate Wednesday said that a 36-bed hospital is warranted in the area.

As many as one in four psychiatric patients is uninsured, according to the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, the lobbying organization for the state's hospitals.

Local hospitals had asked that the department withhold its certificate of need, claiming a new hospital would take away psychiatric patients with health insurance, leaving them with a greater percentage of patients who cannot pay.

The hospital closed in 1993 and is currently vacant. The projected cost of turning the site into a functioning hospital is $6.7 million.

Any party who disagrees with the proposed approval of the Ascend project may request an informal hearing with the Department of Human Services Public Health Division. The order will become final if there is no request for a hearing received by March 31.

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