Question for Cascadia: state of change

A little more than a year has passed since State and County officials began to worry about the state of affairs with Oregon’s largest private provider of mental health services – Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare.

After a series of newspaper articles which questioned the financial state of the nonprofit after a Medicaid audit were met with reassurances of stability, Leslie Ford, then CEO, President and founder of Cascadia abruptly resigned in April. She was followed by all of her longtime senior staff members. Finding a substantial and unpredicted shortfall in revenue left behind, the Cascadia appealed for assistance from Multnomah County. Their appeal resulted in several infusions of cash, and county officials insisting Cascadia do it’s business differently.

Clients of Cascadia were in real jeopardy for a short duration of time. Without intervention from the county and state, vital and irreplaceable services could have vanished. Big changes have occurred, administrative, financial, clinical.

The Mental Health Association of Portland has asked Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare to answer some basic questions about changes at Cascadia, general and specific. They’ve agreed, and over the next few weeks we’ll post this virtual dialogue on this web site.

You’re welcome to join in and both ask your own questions and comment on the answers given by leaving a comment below. Send your questions to info@mentalhealthportland.org.

Question for Derald Walker, Ph.d, CEO and President of Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare.

Can you tell us what Cascadia is today, and give us a basic understanding of how Cascadia transformed over the past year?

Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare is much more financially stable. The changes that have led to a more stable organization are due to a variety of cost cutting moves that included painful but necessary staff reductions. The large majority of the staff reductions were administrative in nature. Cascadia continues to focus on eliminating costs where possible without impacting consumer services. We’ve completed the implementation of our new automated billing system as well as a fully integrated accounting software program. The combination of cost reductions and improved revenue and accounting systems have helped significantly.

Cascadia no longer operates clinics in Gresham and Downtown Portland. The contracts in these two locations and in Washington County were transferred to other community providers. In addition to these changes, Cascadia’s Bridgeview program was also transferred.

While these changes have reduced Cascadia’s scope, we continue to provide an impressive continuum of services that comprises a valuable system of care for our community. Some of these services are residential, community clinic services, mobile crisis outreach, integrated services between addiction and mental health as well as specialty affordable housing services.

Given the uncertainly with publicly funded healthcare, Cascadia’s financial future will continue to provide challenges. However, with the improved internal information systems that include claims, clinical productivity, and financial accounting, our ability to anticipate and adjust in ways that will protect consumer care is greatly enhanced.

EXTRA – Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare