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Gazette Premium Content E. Oregon will have new mental health options

Associated Press Updated: December 15, 2013 at 6:31 pm

PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) — As the state of Oregon prepares to close a mental hospital in Pendleton, a new cluster of mental health facilities is emerging nearby.

Crews are remodeling a former training center for people with developmental disabilities. Once complete, it will house a trio of independently operated five-bed facilities.

One will be a crisis center, where police can hand off people dealing with a mental-health emergency. The other two will be residential treatment homes, one serving young people between the ages of 17 and 24, the other serving adults transferring out of the Oregon State Hospital.

The new facilities will be run by private organizations, not the state, the East Oregonian reported (http://bit.ly/1fei8g1).

After multiple last-minute reprieves, the 60-bed Blue Mountain Recovery Center, the state's smallest mental hospital, is now scheduled to close in March. Most of the patients have already left. The idea for the new campus stemmed from a 2012 meeting of mental health professionals, local government officials, law enforcement offices and the Oregon Health Authority, which operates the hospital.

Renovations to the former Eastern Oregon Training Center will cost about $1.8 million with startup costs of around $375,000. The state-owned buildings are being leased by Columbia Care, which will run the two residential treatment facilities, and Greater Oregon Behavioral Health, Inc., which oversees the crisis center. GOBHI has contracted with Lifeways to run it.

The crisis center will provide police and others a place to bring people for up to 48 hours of emergency mental health care, said Mike Gregory, clinical operations manager for Lifeways in Pendleton. The program doesn't admit people who are intoxicated or violent.

"This is a voluntary program, so acutely intoxicated, delirious or delusional individuals who lack the capacity or judgment to give informed consent will need a different level of care," he said. "The (crisis center) is one more element in the crisis, emergency room, detox, psychiatric hospital, jail continuum. Law enforcement, mental health programs and the individuals themselves will be the primary referral sources."

The other two facilities will focus on longer-term care treatment, said Jennifer Sewitsky of Medford-based Columbia Care.

One home will help 17-to-24-year-old residents ease back into society after living in institutional settings. The other will house adults who committed crimes while under the grip of mental illness and have spent time in the Oregon State Hospital system. Residents will have been judged ready to step down to a lower level of care.

"These are people who are working on their illnesses," Sewitsky said.

Also on campus is the Pendleton Cottage, a state-run 16-bed secured residence for people who entered state custody after being guilty of crimes except for reason of insanity. The secured facility, which opened in 2009, sits inside an 8-foot security fence and provides a place for residents to work through a series of milestones to gain steadily increasing independence.

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