Cascadia employees will keep jobs following transition

From Forest Grove News-Times, June 17, 2008

Washington County shifts services to other mental health contractors starting July 1

Officials expect a smooth transition when Washington County cuts ties with struggling mental health provider Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare on July 1.

The county has managed to shift services provided by Cascadia to two other mental health contractors – employees and all.

“That’s a big relief for us that that is going to work out and consumers really shouldn’t experience any issues with this transition,” said Rod Branyan, Washington County’s director of health and human services.

Cascadia provides services to about 23,000 mentally ill clients across the state, offering crisis intervention, treatment, walk-in clinics, housing, counseling, case management and outreach. The majority of services are provided in Multnomah County.

But in April, financial turmoil struck the organization, sending county governments into a tailspin trying to sort out how to take care of the patients if Cascadia fell apart.

Cascadia has contracts with Washington County that amount to about $2 million. One of those contracts is for mobile, emergency mental-health counseling, a vital service that Branyan said the county couldn’t afford to do without.

Two Portland nonprofits will take over Cascadia’s services at the end of the month.

CODA will take over Cascadia’s Hillsboro facility, and a program providing drug and alcohol treatment to the county’s drug court program.

Lifeworks NW will take over Cascadia’s Beaverton facility, including the mobile emergency care unit.

“Part of the problem that Multnomah County had was that such a significant percentage of the services provided in Multnomah County were provided by Cascadia,” Branyan said. “But in our case they were a much smaller percentage.

“It would still be a strain though, unless Cascadia staff were already willing to transfer,” Branyan said.

Mary Monnat, CEO of Lifeworks NW, agreed that bringing the employees along will ease the transition for the nonprofits and the clients they serve.

“We’re very grateful that we were able retain their whole team,” Monnat said.