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Behavioral, addiction health services increase as Oregon calls for improvement

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(The Center Square) – Oregon is expanding its behavioral health services as the state calls for increased investment.

Governor Tina Kotek’s office announced Wednesday that two separate facilities will expand residential capacity in the Portland area by at least 90 beds. This includes a 70-bed project in Portland to treat adults with behavioral health and addiction problems. Central City Concern will run the facility, according to the governor’s office.

“This is an incredible opportunity to fill a direct gap in needed treatment options in the central city,” Governor Kotek said. “The urgency and collaboration that made this purchase possible is precisely the kind of leadership this moment demands. I want to thank my colleagues at the County and City, as well as Central City Concern and CareOregon for rising to the occasion. See a problem, see a viable solution, run toward it.”

Additionally, Parrott Creek Child and Family Services in Oregon City broke ground on a new treatment facility that will double its current capacity, allowing it to serve 40 children at a time instead of 20. It offers an addiction treatment program and behavioral health services, according to the Oregon Capital Chronicle.

The expansion announcements come as the Oregon Health Authority’s Ombuds Program report released this week called for improvements to children’s behavioral health services in the state.

Since 2019, the Ombudsman Program has received 115 reports from its residents concerned with a lack of mental health services or poor care quality for its younger residents, according to the report.

Issues the Ombuds Program highlighted include the lack of interpreter services for non-English speakers, long wait times, and not enough personnel to help younger residents get in touch with community mental health services.

“We just do not have the right services,” Heather Jefferis, executive director of the Oregon Council for Behavioral Health, told the Oregon Capital Chronicle. “We just don’t have capacity for appropriate services really anywhere in the state for families, children, and youth. Access is an outcome. Timely, appropriate access to the right service at the right time is a very, very critical outcome, and we are not achieving that outcome.”

The Ombuds Program wants the youth mental health services funding model to mirror the one the state uses for adults. It also called for the state’s Medicaid services to cover intensive in-home treatment for residents 20 and under, something nearly half of the state’s Medicaid insurers do not.

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