Mental Health Association of Portland

Oregon's independent and impartial mental health advocate

City Attorneys Basically Dare Federal Judge to Reject Police Reform Deal over Procedural Imbroglio

Posted by admin2 on 30th June 2014

From the Portland Mercury, June 27, 2014

With just days before US District Judge Michael Simon gets ready to decide the fate of police reform in Portland, attorneys for the city and the Portland Police Association have submitted lengthy legal defenses of their attempt to push the case through without giving Simon precisely what he wants: annual courtroom updates from the city, the union, and the federal Department of Justice.

As the Mercury first reported this week, all three parties have suggested sending in the city’s still-unhired reforms monitor instead. And as Simon considers that offer—he could agree to the change, he could insist on convening updates as he sees fit, or he could reject the deal altogether and go to trial—both the city (pdf) and the police union (pdf) decided warn him what might happen if they don’t get their way.

Insisting on annual updates with everyone involved could be grounds for an appeal—tying up the effective date of the reforms even longer than it’s already waited (it’s been almost two years since the DOJ accused the city and its police officers of engaging in a pattern or practice of using excessive force against people perceived to be mentally ill).

Moreover, they wrote, proceeding to trial would all but certainly hand the city a victory in the case and threaten to undo almost all of the reforms that have already been put into place. Because so much time has passed, the city wrote, an all-new investigation would likely need to be started. And even that may falter, the city writes.

Moreover, from a pleading standpoint, the United States would be confronted with a Hobson’s choice: rely on a complaint and investigation that is now almost two years old or conduct a new investigation. Plaintiff faces legal risk under either approach. The City has already implemented much of the substantive relief provided for by the Settlement Agreement. This aggressive implementation has furthered the public interest and the City’s policy goals in achieving reforms without delay. But these positive developments would make it even more difficult for the United States to identify and prove currently existing violations via a new investigation and would likely significantly reduce the scope of available relief if they attempt to prove older violations. A new investigation would require at least the same expenditure of resources as did the initial investigation.

The city also explained in the most detail we’ve seen yet why it doesn’t want to send its attorneys back to court. It’s worried the informational hearings Simon’s looking to convene—attempts to learn about reforms and potential issues so they can be corrected—will become “adversarial.” It’s also arguing that the hearings somehow won’t be transparent, by relying on lawyers and cutting out the city council and the reform monitor, otherwise known as the “compliance officer/community liaison” or “COCL”.

The City’s objection to extensive ongoing court proceedings has always been that ultimate accountability for ensuring the terms of the Settlement Agreement are implemented rests with the City’s elected representatives. As the Court has acknowledged, it does not have the ability to require any party to do anything in response to information it would receive at these proceedings. The City and the COCL would be significantly burdened in having to review, investigate, and respond to materials generated by and for an adversarial court proceeding. Moreover, by allowing the parties and enhanced amicus to make direct presentations to the Court, the elected officials and the Community Oversight and Advisory Board would be cut out of an important feedback loop. The parties’ presentations would be directed at the performance of various City bureaus, and only the City has the authority and responsibility for managing those bureaus. Whatever benefit the Court might gain by allowing the parties and enhanced amicus to make presentations is significantly outweighed by the damage to public accountability that would result from the inability of the Court and the City’s elected officials to meaningfully respond.

Interestingly, the Department of Justice—despite still endorsing the notion of sending in the COCL, to avoid appeals—wrote its own legal brief (pdf)laying out an alternative path for Simon to get what he wants.

Because Simon will retain jurisdiction over the settlement agreement even after dismissing it, with prejudice, the case will remain on his docket. And any judge, the feds argue, is free to order status conference hearings on the cases on his or her docket whenever she or he wants.

Courts do not distinguish between the inherent power to manage a case on active versus inactive dockets. Even when a case is on a judge’s inactive docket, the matter is still within the court’s jurisdiction and subject to the exercise of the court’s inherent power.

Simon will close the book on arguments after July 2. And a decision may appear at any point after.

Tags: , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Portland Police Shoot Dead 23-Year-Old With Mental Illness

Posted by admin2 on 18th June 2014

From Think Progress, June 17, 2014

Police in Portland, Oregon shot and killed 23-year-old Nick Davis Thursday morning, after they say he came at them with a crow bar. Friends told KPTV that Davis suffers from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and was not typically a violent man.

Nick Davis, killed by Portland PolicePolice said they reported to the scene at 6 a.m. after reports of a robbery, KPTV reports. They say Davis, whom police believed to be the suspect, left the area but was found along a trail nearby. When they approached Davis, he came at them with a crow bar and “continued to swing” as officers backed away and one fell to the ground. One of the officers responding by shooting Davis, seemingly without trying other measures to mitigate the harm.

After Davis was down, the officers began providing medical aid, but Davis did not survive. His longtime friend Brandon Mitchell told KPTV he “just needed support and people to help him.”

The officer who fired the shots, Robert Brown, is on administrative leave while his case is investigated and forwarded to a grand jury, according to KPTV. But Portland has a documented history of excessive force and deadly shootings, particularly against the mentally ill.

In late 2012, the Department of Justice concluded after a year-long investigation that the Portland Police Bureau engaged in a “pattern or practice” of excessive force against people with mental illness. Among the incidents highlighted by the investigation were the fatal shooting of a man threatening to kill himself, the frequent, unnecessary tasering of individuals perceived to have mental illness, and other uses of disproportionate force for purported low-level crimes.

The police department initially reached a settlement with the Justice Department to institute reforms, but the settlement was complicated by objections from the police union and was scheduled for trial in the summer of 2014. As of February, settlement talks remained ongoing.

Around the country, those with mental illness are the disproportionate victims of police violence. A study by the Portland Press Herald in Maine found that nearly half of people shot by police since 2000 were mentally ill, and that police lack proper training on defusing deadly conflicts.

Lack of proper training on mental illness is one of several factors that experts have cited to explain why police turn to guns when other, less deadly tactics might suffice. Among the recommendations of a recent report to police chiefs on the use of force against those with mental illness or addiction problems are “slowing down the situation” by getting a supervisor to the scene, and identifying “chronic consumers” of police services.

Tags: , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

City Challenge to Annual Court Hearings Jeopardizes DOJ Agreement

Posted by admin2 on 30th May 2014

Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform
c/o Allen Temple 4236 NE 8th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97211

*CITY CHALLENGE TO ANNUAL COURT HEARINGS JEOPARDIZES DOJ AGREEMENT ON IMPROVING POLICE PRACTICES *

The Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform (AMAC) strongly condemns the City of Portland’s refusal to agree to annual status hearings on the Settlement Agreement with the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). The Court has indicated that, absent such hearings the Court will reject the Agreement. The City’s refusal to participate in the proposed annual hearings — in which the Court’s authority is limited to receiving information and merely asking questions of the parties — is unjustified, and is a clear rejection of the Court’s continued authority over this case.

The City has spent countless resources negotiating the Agreement with the DOJ to resolve the DOJ’s lawsuit alleging the Police Bureau (PPB) engaged in a pattern or practice of using excessive force on individuals with actual or perceived mental illness, in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Shortly after the suit was filed, the City joined the DOJ in asking the Court to enter an order approving the Settlement Agreement and to conditionally dismiss the litigation pending the City’s implementation of the Agreement.

The AMAC, granted enhanced /amicus curie/ status in the lawsuit, has worked in good faith to support the entry of the Settlement Agreement, despite concerns with the Agreement itself. The AMAC participated in mediation with all parties, resulting in a Collaborative Agreement with the City and the DOJ in which it agreed not to object to entry of the Agreement. Likewise, the Portland Police Association (PPA), which was granted intervener status, entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City and the DOJ, in which it too agreed to withdraw its objections.

In a March 24, 2014 hearing, the Court indicated that while the Agreement was substantively fair, adequate, and reasonable, it did not find it to be _procedurally_ adequate. Specifically, the Court expressed concern that, once the Agreement was entered, more than three years would lapse before it heard from the City and the DOJ regarding its implementation. The Court therefore proposed annual hearings, at which the parties would report to the Court on the implementation of the Agreement. The City and PPA will not agree to participate in these annual hearings.

The AMAC has grave concerns regarding the City’s and PPA’s refusal to participate in annual hearings, despite their knowing this may result in the rejection of the Agreement. “The Community wants to see the Court’s limited oversight over the implementation of this Agreement. The symbolism of the parties appearing in Court just once a year before a neutral and consistent observer, to give a status update, demonstrates the parties’ commitment to transparency, and to the checks and balances of our system of government,” said Dr. LeRoy Haynes, co-chair of the AMAC. “The limited review on the status of compliance sought by the Court should be welcomed by the City, given the City’s assertion that it is already in compliance and on track with the implementation of the Agreement,” said Dr. T. Allen Bethel, co-chair of the AMAC.”The City has been operating under the expectation that the Agreement will be entered; it makes no sense to negate all the work that went into negotiating and implementing the Agreement by rendering it unenforceable,” Dr. Bethel said.

The City’s refusal to agree to the hearings, now requires that the parties submit further briefing on the issue to the Court. The AMAC sincerely hopes the City will reconsider its untenable position, before spending more of the public’s resources litigating a case involving the excessive use of force against the most vulnerable members of our community. “The failure of the Mayor, the city commissioners, and the PPA to accept Judge Michael Simon limited annual review represents a missed historical opportunity to unite our diverse communities and take a leap in resolving the rift in our city between the police and the community, particularly communities of color and person with mental disabilities,” added Rev. Haynes.

The AMA Coalition for Justice and Police Reform is working toward these five goals:
1. A federal investigation by the Justice Department to include criminal and civil rights violations, as well as a federal audit of patterns and practices of the Portland Police Bureau.
2. Strengthening the Independent Police Review Division and the CitizenReview Committee with the goal of adding power to compel testimony.
3. A full review of the Bureau’s excessive force and deadly force policies and training with diverse citizen participation for the purpose of making recommendations to change policies and training.
4. The Oregon State Legislature narrowing the language of the State statute for deadly force used by police officers.
5. Establishing a special prosecutor for police excessive force and deadly force cases.


Federal justice officials, city of Portland can’t agree on judge’s request for annual hearings on police reforms

From The Oregonian, May 28, 2014

Two months after a federal judge told Portland city attorneys and federal justice officials that’s he not likely to approve their negotiated settlement on police reforms without requiring annual status hearings in his court, the parties to the case haven’t accepted the idea.

“Unfortunately at this time, we’re not able to report we have reached an agreement,” said Michelle Jones, attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights division.

Jones and attorneys for the city, the Portland Police Association and the Albina Ministerial Alliance’s Coalition for Justice and Police Reform spoke by phone to the judge during a brief conference Friday afternoon.

Deputy city attorney Ellen Osoinach echoed Jones’ report to U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Simon.

The judge gave the attorneys until June 24 to submit legal briefs outlining their positions on his request and until July 2 to submit any responses to the initial briefs filed.

Simon said he doesn’t anticipate hearing any further oral arguments and intends to issue a written ruling sometime after July 2 whether he’ll accept the negotiated settlement on Portland police reforms.

The court’s involvement stems from a Justice Department investigation in 2012 that found Portland police engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force against people with mental illness or perceived to have mental illness. The investigation also found that police use of stun guns was unjustified and excessive at times. A negotiated agreement calls for changes to Portland policies, training and oversight. Federal and city officials are seeking the judge’s acceptance of the agreement without a trial.

In April, the parties to the case returned to the judge and offered an alternative to his idea: annual hearings before Portland’s City Council. The judge quickly shot that idea down, saying that would be insufficient.

Simon on Friday reiterated why he wants to hear in his courtroom each year on the progress of the reforms from either the city, federal officials, the police union, the Albina Ministerial Alliance or the person who is hired as the city’s community liaison officer.

The agreement is expected to extend for at least three years.

“I want to make sure either we’re proceeding apace and making good progress towards implementation – or if there was a problem, I’d want to hear about it sooner than later,” Simon said.

City attorneys in the past have questioned the judge’s authority to hold annual hearings.

In March, Simon said he didn’t want to dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice, as requested by the two main parties. That would mean that the suit would be over and no one could bring it back to court. At the time, he said he’d prefer to place a hold, or a “stay” on the case and require at least yearly status hearings in open federal court, he said.

Federal officials told the judge in March that the parties are opposed to a hold on the lawsuit. If a stay was then lifted, they argued, it would “reinvigorate the case,” and the U.S. government doesn’t want to keep the suit in litigation.

Instead, they suggested the court might conditionally dismiss the lawsuit, with the requirement that annual status hearings be held before the court that are limited in scope but would allow for continued oversight. In essence, the lawsuit would be placed on the court’s inactive docket until the Justice Department returns to the court with a motion to dismiss the case once there’s substantial compliance with the reforms.

Simon Friday said he’d only agree to “conditionally dismiss” the lawsuit if all parties to the case, and the city’s community liaison, would agree that they’d appear yearly in his court to discuss the reforms’ progress.

The Rev. T. Allen Bethel, co-chair of the Albina Ministerial Alliance’s coalition, said he was disappointed and disturbed by the refusal of the city and other parties to the case to agree to annual court status hearings. The community coalition had asked to intervene in the case and the judge allowed the group limited status.

He issued this statement Friday:

“The limited review on the status of compliance sought by the Court should be welcomed by the City, given the City’s assertion that it is already in compliance and on track with the implementation of the Agreement. The City has been operating under the expectation that the Agreement will be entered; it makes no sense to negate all the work that went into negotiating and implementing the Agreement by rendering it unenforceable.”

And, the Rev. LeRoy Haynes, co-chair of the AMA coalition, said:

“The failure of the Mayor, the city commissioners, and the PPA to accept Judge Michael Simon’s limited annual review represents a missed historical opportunity to unite our diverse communities and take a leap in resolving the rift in our city between the police and the community, particularly communities of color and persons with mental disabilities.”

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Legislators finally hear of unchecked increase & expense of criminal defendants at Oregon State Hospital

Posted by admin2 on 30th May 2014

From the Oregonian, May 29, 2014

Two-thirds of the patients admitted to the Oregon State Hospital last year were criminal defendants admitted under court orders, a legislative panel heard Thursday.

Sixty percent of those patients faced felony charges, and the other 40 percent faced misdemeanors, said Greg Roberts, hospital superintendent. Patients facing relatively minor offenses such as public urination are costing Oregon taxpayers $345,000 a year to treat at the state hospital.

The news didn’t make for happy lawmakers.

“Public urination?” asked a dismayed Rep. Carolyn Tomei, D-Milwaukie, chairwoman of the interim House Human Services and Housing Committee.

State officials have struggled for years to treat more mentally ill patients in less costly community-based programs. Oregon is also in the middle of a four-year agreement with the federal Justice Department, which examined whether the state provides adequate community mental health programs as alternatives to institutions. A January report found the state lagged far behind in providing community programs.

Criminal defendants admitted under court order are often referred to as “370 patients,” shorthand for the statute under which judges can admit them to the hospital for treatment. The goal is to treat them so they’re competent to “aid and assist” in their criminal defense.

The hospital can keep 370 patients for up to three years, or the maximum sentence that could have been imposed if the defendant was found guilty, whichever is shorter.

The number of 370 patients has risen from 88 in January 2010 to 151 last month. The increase requires adding a new unit for 370 patients every six months, Roberts said.

“This trend is unsustainable,” he said. “We just don’t have the ability to do that, but that’s what’s been happening over the last few years.”

Those patients are also more likely to assault hospital staff — an ongoing problem at the hospital — and to face seclusion as a result, Roberts said.

Part of the problem stems from the lack of community mental health programs to serve those in need, Roberts said.

“Any absence of community programs and services to help restore a person to the ability to aid and assist (in the defense), then the only option becomes the state hospital,” he said.

Lawmakers pledged to revisit the topic during September meetings.


House Interim Committee On Human Services and Housing, 2013
Meeting Details 5/29/2014 8:00 AM, HR D

Members – Carolyn Tomei, David Gomberg, Andy Olson, Joe Gallegos, Sara Gelser, Vic Gilliam, Alissa Keny-Guyer, Ann Lininger, Gene Whisnant, Gail Whitsett.

Meeting log – transcripts of testimony – have not yet been uploaded.

Update on Agreement with United States Department of Justice – presentation by Pam Martin, Director of the Oregon Health Authority’s Addictions and Mental Health Division.

Increase in Oregon’s “Aid and Assist” Population – testimony by Cheryl Ramirez, Executive Director Association of Oregon Community Mental Health Programs.

No title. Subject: “Aid and Assist” – presentation by Greg Roberts, Superintendent of the Oregon State Hospital.

Differential Response Strengthening, Preserving and Reunifying Families – Implementation of SB 964Lois Day, Child Welfare Director; Stacy Lake, Differential Response Manager.

Investment in the Mental Health System, letter from Amanda Marshall of the the U.S. Department of Justice to John Dunbar of the Oregon Department of Justice, January 2014.

Interim Report to the State of Oregon – Integration of Community Mental Health and Compliance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act , report from the U.S. Department of Justice, January 2014.

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

DOJ, PPB to sign agreement over 2006 death

Posted by admin2 on 23rd March 2014

From KOIN.com, March 23, 2014

Eds. note – the headline in this article is inaccurate, but is posted as written. On March 24 Judge Michael Simon will hear further testimony about whether the trial of Department of Justice v City of Portland should proceed. At some point after that hearing Simon will determine whether a trial should proceed. The City of Portland City Council agreed to sign the Agreement in November 2012. There were several other minor inaccuracies in this article which are changed for clarity’s sake.

After the Department of Justice found the Portland Police Bureau had a pattern of using excessive force in dealing with the mentally ill, an agreement over policy changes is expected to be signed on Friday.

But mental health advocates are concerned the agreement doesn’t do enough to prevent incidents from continuing.

In 2006, officers thought James Chasse was urinating in public. When officers approached, he ran away.

The schizophrenic man was then tackled and Tasered, and then died in a police car on the way to the hospital after a nurse at the jail denied police when they tried to drop him off.

The jailhouse video was given to the producer of a documentary on Chasse, ‘Alien Boy: The Life and Death of James Chasse’ which will be released on Tuesday. The producer said this case showcases the problems the city of Portland is not addressing.

His mother, Linda Gerber, told KOIN 6 News, “He just didn’t have a fair shake in life like most people do.”

Since Chasse’s death, PPB has taken steps to change, including the creation of a behavioral health unit.

All officers are now given training on how to handle people with mental illness.

“What we’re asking people to do is think about, is this worth chasing someone down for a potentially using force,” PPB Sgt. Pete Simpson told KOIN 6 News.

But mental health advocates and police said there needs to be a safe place for people in with mental illness to go in a crisis.

“The city recognizes through this agreement it may be something they need to do,” Simpson said. “We used to have one at a hospital. It was a crisis triage center, our drop off center for officers. That was very helpful.”

But the agreement states the city should set up a drop-off or walk-in center by mid-2013. There are no signs of that happening.

“I look at the city response or lack of response,” said Chasse’s friend Steve Doughton, “I just say it’s not Jim who’s crazy.”

Tags: , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

More opposition testimony in DOJ v. City of Portland

Posted by admin2 on 26th February 2014

Testimony against the settlement agreement in DOJ v City of Portland, presented the US Judge Michael Simon was strong on February 18.

Both parties – the US Department of Justice and the City of Portland – have agreed to the 100+ items in the agreement.  Judge Simon sought community on the agreement and invited friends of the court to present additional testimony and participate in secret meetings. Two organizations qualified for the status of “amici” or friends of the court, the Portland Police Association – the union for Portland Police Bureau officers, and the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform.  The AMA Coalition received “enhanced” status with slightly limited powers.

The Mental Health Association of Portland is a Coalition member, but not privy to the AMA Coalition Steering Committee discussions and not invited to the secret meetings with the parties to the case. A full list of those participants is listed here. No person in those secret discussions has personal or professional experience representing the interests of persons with mental illness.

To get into the secret meetings – which appear to have had no affect on the agreement – Simon made both the parties and the amici promise to keep the content of the meetings secret, and to agree to support the agreement.

Not being a member of the AMA Steering Committee has multiple benefits. Our testimony in opposition to the agreement has been online for a couple of weeks. We’ve also posted testimony in opposition to the agreement from NAMI Multnomah County, and from Kristi Jamison. And though the Portland Police Association gave no testimony during Simon’s “fairness hearing,” their president Daryl Turner did some public griping afterward and we posted something about that.

The DOJ asked Chris Bouneff of NAMI Oregon to testify on behalf of the agreement. The state and county, he said, “are not at the table and there’s nothing to compel them to be at the table to increase the type of services necessary. That element will be missing in this agreement.”

Jo Ann and David Hardesty of Consult Hardesty have collected much of the testimony and shared it on their web site.

Becky Straus, legal director for ACLU of Oregon
Jo Ann A. Hardesty, Principle Partner Consult Hardesty and David Hardesty, Minority Partner Consult Hardesty
Jan Friedman of Disability Rights Oregon
Terri Walker and Sylvia Zingeser of NAMI Multnomah County

Mark Kramer of the National Lawyers Guild

Portland Copwatch – 11 sections formatted to a printable PDF. 
  1. Introduction
    Appealing Findings on Deadly Force Cases
  2. Taser Use and the DOJ Agreement
  3. Accountability– Independent Police Review
  4. Accountability– Citizen Review Committee
  5. Accountability– Police Review Board
  6. Use of Force and the DOJ Agreement
  7. Mental Health Provisions
  8. Training and the DOJ Agreement
  9. Tracking Police Contacts / Demographic Information
  10. Implementation and Transparency
  11. Oversight of the Agreement / ConclusionAdditional Materials /Exhibits

Tom Steenson, civil rights attorney in Campbell v. City of Portland, Chasse v. City of Portland, and Gwerder v. Besner.

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Read key findings of federal report criticizing how Oregon provides community mental health care

Posted by admin2 on 27th January 2014

From the Oregonian, January 23, 2014

A January report stems from a 2012 agreement between the U.S. Justice Department and the state, after federal investigators examined whether Oregon’s community mental health care services complied with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The investigation followed the federal inquiry of the state hospital.

READ – US DOJ Interim Report to the State of Oregon – PDF
READ – statement by DOJ on failures of OHA – PDF
READ – OHS chief Tina Eklund’s lame response, as prepared for The Oregonian – PDF

The “Interim Report to the State of Oregon” found:

Costs: Care at the Oregon State Hospital runs an estimated $945 a day or about $344,925 a year per person. The state largely bears the costs because Medicaid doesn’t make reimbursements for care at the hospital. Intensive community treatment would cost less, partly because Medicaid applies. The annual cost of supporting someone through Assertive Community Treatment services (teams of psychiatrists, nurses and social workers who provide individualized care) is $15,000 per person. Medicaid would reimburse $9,366, so the costs to Oregon would be $5,634 per person. The annual savings to the state would be $236,286 to $339,361 per person.

More at – Read key findings of federal report criticizing how Oregon provides community mental health care

Tags: ,
Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

OHA chief responds to the USDOJ Interim Report

Posted by admin2 on 27th January 2014

Statement from Tina Edlund, acting director of the Oregon Health Authority, in response to the USDOJ Interim Report to the State of Oregon, January 2014

READ – statement by Edlund as prepared for The Oregonianstatement by DOJ on failures of OHA

READ – statement by DOJ on failures of OHA

The interim report includes USDOJ’s preliminary analysis of the year one baseline data. This data does not reflect the significant investments the Oregon Legislature made in our community mental health system. We expect to see the numbers improve as new programs and services come online in 2014.

The state shares a commitment with USDOJ to ensure people with severe and persistent mental illness (SPMI) are able to live in the least restrictive setting possible. Our goal is to  provide people with the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

We also share a commitment to getting the best data possible to determine the baseline for the current service level – where we’re at right now – and then, according to the four-year plan outlined in the agreement, we are going to use this data to identify gaps in the system and determine the best way to address those needs. We look forward to working with USDOJ on everything outlined in the report, and we expect to see improvement in the data soon.

While the agreement with USDOJ is for a four-year plan, we didn’t wait to begin making changes. Last summer, Governor Kitzhaber and the Legislature made an unprecedented investment in mental health services, with almost $40 million going to the community mental health system. Then the Legislature invested an additional $20 million during the September special session. Many of these investments will fund services for people with SPMI, such as:

  • Crisis services;
  • Supported housing and peer-delivered services;
  • Supported employment services; and
  • Assertive Community Treatment (ACT).

These investments will focus on creating more services, but they will also fund provider training and technical assistance to help programs establish evidence-based practices that have been proven to help people recover from mental illness. This will augment our existing contracts with two centers of excellence to conduct fidelity reviews and to offer technical assistance to providers of ACT and supported employment.

Since July, the state has moved forward quickly with the new investments, and we’re already well underway. More than $28 million has been awarded so far. We’re on an accelerated timeline, so we expect to see the impact of those investments reflected in the data collected within the next several months.

At the same time, Oregon is reducing its reliance on the state hospital system. Over the past 10 years, the total annual average daily population in the state hospitals has decreased by 19.8 percent, from a high of 784 in 2004 to 629 in 2013.

It is also worth noting that while state hospital population numbers have dropped, the overall population in Oregon has been increasing.

However, our goal is to continue reducing admissions to the state hospital. People should receive the best and most integrated care that will help them get well and stay well. Whenever possible, this care should be in their local communities. That said, just like with any other condition, there will always be times when some individuals need hospital-level care on their road to recovery.

As we move into the second year of our four-year agreement, we look forward to collaborating with USDOJ on the best way to move forward. While we will see faster, more direct results through the community mental health investments, the coordinated care model will have a long-term effect as CCOs work to integrate behavioral and physical health services and establish patient-centered primary care health homes to provide critical community services to people living with SPMI so they are able to live in the most integrated setting possible.

Tags: , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »