Children’s psychiatry clinic comes to Pendleton

From the East Oregonian, March 18 2009

A children’s psychiatric clinic is taking up residence in the Pendleton Academies building on Airport Road.

Mind Matters East, an offshoot of a large Beaverton psychiatric outpatient facility, Mind Matters, opened Monday – a couple months after the state essentially closed down the Pendleton Academies children’s residential facility. Citing safety issues, the state withdrew its certificate of approval. Loss of the certificate meant the facility could no longer treat Medicaid patients.

The closure left a void.

No child psychiatrists offered mental health care to privately insured children, said Terry Edvalson, Pendleton Academies’ interim executive director.

“Ironically, only children with Medicaid insurance had access to outpatient child psychiatrists in Umatilla County, Oregon, and Walla Walla County, Washington,” he said.

To fill the niche, Pendleton Academies acted as a business incubator, courting the Portland facility and offering a subsidy to offset startup costs. The subsidy will end when the facility proves sustainable.

The clinic will operate Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Dr. David Conant-Norville, president and co-founder of Mind Matters and supervising child and adolescent psychiatrist, will fly to Pendleton each Tuesday and also consult via interactive video conferencing. Conant-Norville practiced privately in Pendleton for six years and later served as Pendleton Academies’ medical director, flying weekly from Portland.

Nurse practitioner Diane Cort-Wagner and counselor Carrie White round out the staff.

Edvalson said Conant-Norville has a passion for children’s mental health care.

“Dr. Conant-Norville is making a huge financial commitment – he’s losing billable hours in Portland,” Edvalson said. “Mind Matters is coming to the table to see if they can’t develop a practice here that would be self-supporting.”

Conant-Norville worries about children in rural Oregon.

“Like everywhere else in the state, child psychiatric disorders are very common,” he said. “We see ADHD, anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, developmental disabilities and family problems.”

Parents concerned about their children’s mental health can seek treatment through their pediatrician, general practitioner or counselor, or they can call Mind Matter’s Beaverton or Pendleton offices directly.

The start-up of the Pendleton clinic happened at warp speed, Conant-Norville said.

“We had a short time frame,” he said. “We don’t even have our sign up yet.”

EXTRA – Oregon slow to deal with troubled facilities for troubled kids

OUR COMMENT – Lost in the shuffle are two facts. One, Mind Matters is a private company, less accountable and less transparent to the public interest than Pendleton Academies. Two, Mind Matters was a primary clinical adviser and provider to Pendleton Academies.