Mental Health Association of Portland

Hillsboro Residents Propose Legislation to Require Licensing for Luke-Dorf Facilities

Posted by CoffeeX3 on 11th February 2012

By Emily E. Smith, The Oregonian, Thursday, February 09, 2012

Telly Alexander Heath

Telly Alexander Heath

A mentally ill man’s sex crimes in summer 2010, which sparked outrage among Hillsboro residents, has instigated proposed legislation that would require licensing for certain residential facilities.

Hillsboro residents, crime victims and Rep. Katie Eyre Brewer (R-Hillsboro) testified Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee in support of House Bill 4159, which would define the Luke-Dorf Hillsboro facility as a “residential treatment facility,” subject to licensing and oversight.

That’s where 34-year-old Telly Heath was living in July 2010, when left the facility and raped a 21-year-old woman and sexually abused an 11-year-old girl at knifepoint after breaking into their homes.

Eyre’s office said Thursday the bill “slightly adjusts state law to ensure agencies work together to ensure more facilities are licensed and monitored.”

The Hillsboro Neighborhoods Coalition is behind the bill and has also filed a complaint with the Oregon Health Authority. The complaint requests an investigation into the Luke-Dorf facilities and a review of the laws on licensing for residential facilities.

“As a direct result of inadequate supervision and monitoring by Luke-Dorf, two young Oregonians were the victims of brutal crimes,” the complaint alleges.

Filed Feb. 1 by attorney John Gear, the complaint says the facility is operating in violation of state law.

Linda Mokler, chairwoman of the neighborhoods coalition, said the facilities need oversight to keep the public safe and to better help facility residents.

“We really are seeking this to benefit the clients, the employees and the community,” she said.

The group is not opposed to social services, Mokler said, but it wants to see improvements in monitoring and public disclosure.

“They have to be run in a responsible way that gives our community a peace of mind that there is accountability,” she said. “We’ve seen what happens when they’re not successful,” she said, referencing Heath’s crimes, which yielded a prison sentence of nearly 38 years.

Mokler said Heath’s crimes may have been prevented if the Luke-Dorf facility had been licensed.

“We can’t say for certain, obviously,” she said. “But more oversight makes this less likely to happen.”

In Heath’s case, she said, a curfew and more monitoring by staff could have protected the public. The community also should have had more information about Luke-Dorf’s clientele, Mokler said.

At the time of the sex crimes, Heath had been accepted into Washington County’s Mental Health Court and was on probation for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and identity theft. Mental Health Court ordered Heath to stay at the Luke-Dorf facility.

Luke-Dorf officials did not respond to requests for comment.

HB 4159 is co-sponsored by Rep. Julie Parrish (R-West Linn) and Rep. Jefferson Smith (D-Portland).

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Cascadia Behavioral Health recovers from near collapse

Posted by CoffeeX3 on 30th May 2010

From The Portland Business Journal, May 30, 2010

Mental health care provider returns to profitability and starts building a cash reserve

Two years after a financial meltdown nearly destroyed Multnomah County’s safety net for the mentally ill, the nonprofit at the center of the crisis has rebounded.

Under Derald Walker’s leadership, Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare quietly turned itself around.

Under Derald Walker’s leadership, Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare quietly turned itself around.

Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare Inc. is a shadow of its former self, and will bear the burden of its April 2008 near collapse for many years. Even at half its former size, however, the Portland nonprofit remains a key component of the county’s safety net.

It returned to profitability in March. CEO Derald Walker, appointed in the midst of the crisis to turn Cascadia around, hopes to build a $500,000 cash reserve by early 2011.

Two years ago, these results seemed inconceivable.

Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare runs clinics for people struggling with addiction, offered counseling to people with severe mental illness and housed poor people with mental illnesses.

But in spring 2008, poor bookkeeping put all that at risk.

State Medicaid officials had ordered Cascadia to repay $2.7 million when the nonprofit could not provide documents backing previous years’ claims. Capital Pacific Bank had demanded repayment of a $2 million loan.

Leslie Ford, who had been CEO since Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare was founded through the 2002 merger of several smaller nonprofits, had been forced out. Two consecutive chief financial officers hired to turn Cascadia around had quit, after declaring the company’s books a mess and uncovering still more liabilities.

By summer 2008, it appeared as though Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare’s programs would be dismantled and farmed out to other nonprofits.

Instead, the nonprofit is paying down its debt.

“They still have to watch their pennies,” said Kathy Tinkle, business services director for Multnomah County Human Services. “But they’ve made significant progress.”

Under Walker’s leadership, Cascadia obtained a $2.2 million loan from Multnomah County and the state. It negotiated its Medicaid assessment down to $1.2 million, payable over five years.

It also relinquished its role as Multnomah County’s pre-eminent mental health care provider by transferring several of its programs to other area nonprofits in order to cut expenses.

In August 2008, Lifeworks Northwest took over Cascadia’s Gresham clinic and Central City Concern took control of a downtown clinic at Southwest 12th and Stark streets. Luke-Dorf took control of Bridgeview, a residential treatment center.

Surrendering these programs cut Cascadia’s expenses, and the nonprofit cut costs still further by consolidating office space and leaving administrative jobs unfilled.

By drawing down the county-state loan, Cascadia invested in a $250,000 medical billing system aimed at further improving the nonprofit’s finances. The system prohibits Cascadia from submitting incomplete Medicaid claims, so that it can never again be reimbursed without adequate documentation, Walker said.

These cuts are paying off for the organization, but they have also left Cascadia much smaller.

It lost $2.1 million on revenues of $55.9 million in the year ending June 30, 2008, and lost $514,000 on revenues of $42.5 million the following year. Walker expects to end this fiscal year with a surplus of at least $200,000 from a budget of $38 million.

In 2008, Cascadia provided about 80 percent of Multnomah County’s mental health services. Now it provides only 32 percent of these services.

Meanwhile, county mental health officials have undergone their own transformation aimed at avoiding more surprises like the April 2008 Cascadia meltdown.

“We have realized that we can not be in a situation where we are so dependent on a single agency,” Tinkle said.

County mental health leaders now meet quarterly with their largest nonprofit contractors, and monthly with Cascadia, to track the performance health of the nonprofits that they fund.

Jason Renaud, volunteer and secretary of the board of the Mental Health Association of Portland, applauded Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare’s turnaround, and the county’s renewed oversight.

But he also lamented a mental health system that faces stagnant funding and growing demand.

Cascadia’s front-line workers, in particular, have borne a difficult burden through this transformation.

They have not received pay hikes since 2008. With a recent increase in the portion that many pay for health insurance, a number are now taking home less than they did two years ago.

Walker also cut vacation days.

A new program that manages counselor productivity can allow some employees to boost take-home pay if they increase billings as a share of total hours worked. Though many workers have embraced the program, others grumble on the growing emphasis on money in a caring profession.

Since the nonprofit’s fiscal crisis, employees have had to accept paper checks because Cascadia does not have enough of a cash buffer to implement a direct deposit system.

But unlike the crisis of two years ago, these are challenges that observers expect Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare to survive.

“Unfortunately, any nonprofit with the county is in this boat,” Tinkle said. “Our dollars aren’t growing as fast as our personnel and expenses.”

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Golden West Building African-American History Exhibit

Posted by CoffeeX3 on 18th October 2009

Central City Concern unveils Golden West Building African-American History Exhibit
October 22, 2009, 5:00 – 6:30 PM @ Carleton Hart Architects
322 NW 8th Avenue, Portland, Oregon
The celebration is free and open to the public

The Golden West Building houses the Bridgeview Community, a program managed by Luke Dorf, which provides housing and some case management for persons with severe and persistent mental illness who would otherwise be homeless.

In an earlier incarnation, the Golden West Hotel was at the center of Portland’s first African-American neighborhood early in the twentieth century. Due to its proximity to Union Station it served African American railroad workers denied lodging in other Portland hotels. It is one of the oldest remaining landmarks of African American history in Portland.

Central City Concern
purchased and renovated the building in 1989, and recently took full ownership. For the past 19 years, the Golden West has served countless homeless and mentally ill people. In 2007 Central City Concern undertook a number of renovations to the building. We earmarked $4000 to restore the historic display that faces Everett Street sidewalks.

When the City of Portland Visions in Action grant program became known, Central City Concern contacted Old Town History Project Director Dr. Jackie Peterson who helped us put together an application. Central City Concern was awarded $9250 from the City and $1000 from the Oregon Council on the Humanities. The combined funds, plus in-kind labor contributions primarily by Central City Concern, will allow us to restore and improve the exhibit panels and to also add two new display windows on the Broadway side of the building and a sound component. The major goal is to convey the vibrancy of the African American neighborhood around the Golden West in the early part of the 20th century.

For more information, see Golden West Project

OUR COMMENT – This moment in history would have been forgotten without the persistent pestering and problem-solving of Will Bennett, a mental health advocate transforming into a scholar of African-American and Oregon history. Thank you Will.

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Cornelius neighbors air concerns with group home operator

Posted by CoffeeX3 on 14th November 2008

From the Oregonian, November 13 2008

Skeptical neighbors met this week with Luke-Dorf staff for the first time since the mental health care nonprofit changed its plans for what used to be a secure residential treatment facility.

They gathered in the now-empty Connell House, which the state closed in June after a resident escaped by climbing over the tall fence.

That fence is now gone, as are the original plans for the home, which Luke-Dorf is changing to an unlocked treatment facility for lower-risk residents.

After nearly two hours of presentations and sometimes tense discussion between the two sides, Cornelius resident Jim Claeys said he felt more comfortable with Luke-Dorf’s plans.

But he wondered why such a community discussion didn’t happen the first time.

In 2007, Luke-Dorf got a conditional use permit from the city to develop and operate a secure residential treatment facility.

But it wasn’t until December that neighbors — and the planning commissioners who approved the permit — discovered most of the home’s residents were people who had been found “guilty except for insanity” of crimes such as arson, attempted murder and rape.

The clients had been conditionally released from the Oregon State Hospital by the state’s Psychiatric Security Review Board.

City officials revoked the permit in January, leaving room for Luke-Dorf to reapply if it scaled down its plans. That’s what Luke-Dorf is doing now, with a public hearing before the Planning Commission expected in early 2009.

But the initial neighborhood uproar led to harsh feelings about Luke-Dorf that hadn’t faded Wednesday.

“You’re not trusted,” said Larry Gehrke, one of a dozen neighbors who showed up. “This is not a pro-Luke-Dorf crowd.”

Still, the meeting reassured some. Officials said they were working closely with the Washington County sheriff, who alerted neighbors to the home in December. “I trust Rob Gordon,” Claeys said.

And Ashleigh Brenton, who left Review Board jurisdiction in February, spoke movingly of her own path through the mental health system after being found “guilty except for insanity” of robbery and assault.

Brenton, a poised, friendly 52-year-old with no other criminal history, described the psychotic episode eight years ago that culminated when she sped away from a gas station with the attendant clinging to her car.

Neighbors applauded her honesty. But Claeys called Brenton’s behavior a “one-time thing” and said, “It’s the repeat offender we’re worried about.”

Mary Claire Buckley, the Review Board’s executive director, said the board considers patients’ criminal histories when deciding on releases. She cited confidentiality protections and said client profiles would be shared with Gordon and Cornelius Police Chief Paul Rubenstein but not the public.

Neighbors toured the 12-bed home and heard about the clients’ structured days: meals, medication management, community meetings, office visits, therapy and recreation.

The goal is to have clients ready to be on their own when the board’s jurisdiction ends and they go into the community.

At Connell House, residents could leave on their own but would still be closely monitored. Violations — skipping medication or returning late — could send them back to the state hospital — which none of them want, Luke-Dorf officials said.

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County may spend $1.5 million more on mental health system

Posted by CoffeeX3 on 1st November 2008

From the Oregonian, November 1 2008

County may spend $1.5 million more on mental health system – Multnomah officials want to ease Cascadia’s burden

Multnomah County leaders may spend another $1.5 million to stabilize the mental health system after the near-collapse of the state’s largest provider of mental health services.

The money would help with the transfer of two county-funded mental health clinics and a residential housing program for people with mental illness to smaller providers to reduce the scope of the struggling nonprofit, Cascadia Behavioral Health Care.

Cascadia was on the brink of collapse in May, when the county provided an emergency loan of $1.5 million — with the state chipping in another $1 million — to keep services running for the thousands of residents who depend on its services. Mismanagement and inadequate government oversight had allowed risky financial practices to continue for years.

County leaders immediately pushed to reduce the dependency on Cascadia — then responsible for providing 80 percent of the county’s mental health services.

Cascadia agreed to transfer control of two of its five clinics as well as some smaller programs to other nonprofits: The downtown clinic to Central City Concern, the Gresham clinic to Lifeworks Northwest and Bridgeview, transitional housing in Portland that helps seriously mentally ill transition to independent living, to Luke-Dorf Inc.

“It allows us to strengthen our relationships with multiple providers in the mental health system rather than just relying on Cascadia,” said Joanne Fuller, director of the county’s Department of Human Services. Fuller said she doesn’t expect the county to put any more extra money into shoring up the mental health system.

The county Board of Commissioners will vote on whether to approve the money at its meeting Thursday, although some of the money has already been spent. Under the proposal by Human Services, the county would provide $914,000 to help pay the startup costs associated with the transfers, such as computer upgrades, photocopying medical records and hiring former Cascadia employees.

The other $554,000 would be loaned to Central City Concern to make up for any lag in cash flow as it takes over the downtown clinic, which has been losing over $500,000 a year, Fuller said. The county may loan another $441,000 next year, according to the plan. The loans will be repaid, Fuller said.

Cascadia has stabilized in its smaller form, though county leaders continue to closely monitor its fiscal health. Cascadia has not repaid any of the $2.5 million it was lent.

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No winners in Luke-Dorf saga

Posted by CoffeeX3 on 28th August 2008

From the Forest Grove News Times, August 27 2008

As Yogi Berra said, it isn’t over until it’s over, but it’s clear that the folks at Luke-Dorf are about down to their last out in their botched effort to set up a group home in Cornelius.

This isn’t cause for applause, even if you’re rooting for the home team.

We understand that the former residents of Connell House don’t evoke a lot of sympathy – criminals and people with mental illness rarely do. People who are judged guilty “except for insanity” leave the courtroom with two big strikes.

Last week’s vote by the Cornelius Planning Commission just about guarantees that such people won’t be coming back to Luke-Dorf’s secured residential facility on North 29th Avenue any time soon.

We don’t blame nearby homeowners who feel relieved by that news, but the fact is, these people need to live somewhere, and there’s ample evidence that facilities like Connell House are not only safe, but offer these people some hope of getting better.

So, what went wrong?

There’s plenty of blame to go around, but it starts with officials at Luke-Dorf, the Tigard-based mental-health agency which last year applied for a city permit to remodel the building.

At some point it became clear to city officials that what they thought Luke-Dorf was planning to do in the building was far different from what the agency intended.

It’s not clear whether this was an intended end-run by the nonprofit or just poor communication, but either way, it was the foggy start that doomed Connell House.

City officials aren’t blameless. They could have done a better job of pressing Luke-Dorf for details at the outset. But once they realized what kind of residents were coming, they began working with the agency toward some sort of a solution.

Hope for any collaborative resolution, however, was dashed when Washington County Sheriff Rob Gordon decided to take matters into his own hands on the day after Christmas. That’s when employees of his office distributed notices to 1,400 Cornelius residents that three of the men staying at Connell House were sex offenders.

Since then, heavy scrutiny from law enforcement and the media has painted an unflattering picture of Luke-Dorf’s group home, culminating in a June escape that forced the state to temporarily shut the facility down — even though the man who bolted was there for health reasons, not because of a criminal record.

But whatever the conditions were like at Connell House, no one can claim that the five residents who were sent back to the Oregon State Hospital this summer are better off in that crumbling Salem facility.

That’s why it’s important for the state to come up with a better game plan when the dust settles in Cornelius. By reaching out to city officials and residents alike with facts about a facility like Connell House before it’s built, the public can, and should, be able to root for the visitors.

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Finding Help For Cascadia’s Clients

Posted by CoffeeX3 on 27th June 2008

From, June 26, 2008

When Cascadia Behavioral Health ran into financial trouble this past spring, Multnomah County officials divvied up Cascadia’s caseload among the few alternative mental health providers.

The county presented a plan last week that’s big on promises – in terms of redistributing thirty percent of mental health services. But as Rob Manning reports, following through is not so simple.

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The trouble is figuring out which other providers are willing and able to take on Cascadia’s enormous patient load. Other mental health non-profits are also struggling financially, and have to look at their own bottom lines.

And some agencies have other problems.

For instance, the Tigard-based non-profit, Luke Dorf, is slated to take over the transitional care facility called “Bridgeview” from Cascadia. But Luke Dorf is currently facing a state investigation – not for financial problems – but because one of its voluntarily committed patients walked out of a secure facility in Cornelius.

Washington County Sheriff Rob Gordon has been a critic of Luke Dorf’s Connell House, because it is an insecure location for some potentially dangerous people. He says that recent escape is an example.

Rob Gordon: “When a person is in a secure facility, that brings a picture to people’s mind. I’m not sure that being able to escape that easily, with just the assistance of a chair, and not being discovered, and not telling us, would fit my definition of ‘secure’.”

Gordon and Luke Dorf leaders disagree over whether the state investigation should lead to big changes at Connell.

But when it comes to running a non-secure place, like Bridgeview, Gordon doesn’t have a problem with Luke Dorf.

Rob Gordon: “The short answer is Luke Dorf has a fairly high reputation with us and with other law enforcement agencies as a very competent provider of mental health services. And in some ways, I think they’re being unfairly cast as the villain in this.”

That’s only a small piece of the complex Cascadia puzzle, and some of the other big pieces are still being put together.

Two of Cascadia’s biggest clinics – in Gresham and Northeast Portland – serve nearly 600 clients. At least, on paper.

In the wake of Cascadia’s financial meltdown, some non-profit providers are wondering if they should take over Cascadia’s clinics and questioning the accuracy of those numbers. If the numbers are off, there won’t be sufficient income to support costs.

Multnomah County officials are hoping to settle the Gresham clinic’s future in the next week or so. The Northeast Portland building, though, is likely to close, raising the possibility of unwelcome changes for mentally ill clients.

Cascadia’s whole transition is expected to be complete by November.

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