Roseburg’s Telecare Recovery Center to close

From the Roseburg News-Review, May 18, 2010

People who need mental health care will have one less option in Douglas County on or about June 15.

Telecare Recovery Center @ Roseburg is set to close its doors by that date, administrator Jay Harris said Monday.

The residential psychiatric facility is working to place its 10 residents in other appropriate placements as smoothly and safely as possible, he added.

John Gardin, director of behavioral health and research for ADAPT, said the loss of Telecare is “huge” for the community.

“As far as I’m aware there is no other 24-hour care for individuals with chronic mental health needs (in the community),” he said.

Telecare opened in September 2008. Harris said Telecare is closing because the facility has had significant challenges over the years in a number of areas.

The facility has found it difficult to recruit support staff, recruit and retrain management professionals and retain the psychiatric staff, Harris said. He said he suspects this challenge stems from a lack of psychiatric health care professionals in the area from which to draw.

More recently, the Oregon Addiction and Mental Health Division placed sanctions on the facility in late 2009 or early 2010. Harris said he cannot comment on the exact nature of the state agency’s regulatory concerns.

“It appeared to us, the regulatory issues we were dealing with were not close to coming to an end,” he said, “and the (Telecare) Corporation ultimately made the decision it is in everybody’s best interest to close the facility.”

Once the state agency imposed sanctions on the facility, it could no longer admit new residents, Harris said. Prior to that, however, the facility had been filling all 16 of its beds.

Most of its residents are referred to the facility through the state, mainly from state psychiatric hospitals. The locked-down facility’s job has been to try to reintegrate residents back into the community, Harris said.

The facility’s closure also will effectively result in the layoff of its 34 employees. Harris said California-based Telecare will try to find them work at its other facilities. The closest such facilities are in the Woodburn area.

When Telecare opened its doors here, many hoped it would fill the gap left when Mercy Medical Center’s Behavioral Health Unit closed in 2007. Telecare actually moved into a wing of the then-deserted BHU building behind the Community Cancer Center.

“When BHU closed at Mercy that was a huge blow,” said Gardin, who holds a doctorate in psychology. “We assumed when Telecare moved in, it would fill that gap.”

In response to BHU’s closure, ADAPT had agreed to a Douglas County Mental Health request to house people with mental health needs in a housing complex ADAPT runs for those with substance abuse issues. Patients would have to have substance abuse issues as well to be housed there.

County funding for those beds ran out awhile ago, Gardin said. Since then, ADAPT has continued to try to meet that need by housing those with mental health issues in its substance abuse housing complex.

But Gardin said that creates challenges for providing treatment to those with mental health needs and also doesn’t provide an optimum living environment for them.

And now with the closure of Telecare, helping those with mental health needs will become more challenging, he said.

“It’s difficult in the community,” he said. “They can go to the ER (at Mercy) and be treated as best as ER can treat them. If they’re acutely suicidal or of harm to others or themselves or unable to take care of themselves, they can go to Douglas County Mental Health.”

“But having no acute or no chronic mental health beds here is going to make life a little more challenging,” he said.