PENDLETON – Umatilla County’s New Mental Health and Addiction Care Provider More Than Half Up
Kimberly Lindsay, executive director of Community Counseling Solutions, said in an interview that the Heppner-based nonprofit started its addiction services for the county on September 1 and is on track to start health services. mental health on December 1.
“There isn’t a single thing that hasn’t happened or is going on,” Lindsay said.
Sixteen employees from the old county alcohol and drug program have now started working at CCS, Lindsay said. And of the 95 positions that make up the provider’s mental health services, there are 19 vacancies that will need to be filled or are in the process of being filled.
“It’s not great, because it’s difficult to fill these positions,” said Lindsay. “All over the universe, it seems there aren’t enough employees. But the number of opportunities for the people of Umatilla County has increased because we are doing more of our work locally.
That means only two of Lifeways’ former Umatilla County employees have not made the transition, according to county officials.
Lifeways, a mental health care provider who has served the county for over 16 years, lost its contract with the county in May when the county chose Community Counseling Solutions to be the first contractor, combining mental health services and addiction treatment under one roof.
Lindsay said some of the vacancies are those created by CSC, including a “law enforcement liaison” who will act as a bridge between local police and the provider’s mental health professionals.
Several law enforcement officials across the county have already said they are overloaded with mental health appeals due to the closure of care facilities and the change in services in recent years. Lindsay said she hoped the new post would help repair what she described as a “damaged relationship” between law enforcement and mental health care in the county.
“The quality of care was worrying,” she said.
CCS will also either take over existing leases or purchase all 11 Lifeways facilities in the county, Lindsay said. And over the next year, the provider will turn each of those facilities into centers where people can get both types of services, she added.
When Community Counseling Solutions starts its mental health services, former Lifeways patients should expect a smooth transition, Lindsay said.
Lifeways said that in Umatilla County alone, it has served 184 clients with schizophrenic disorder, 491 clients with major depression, 471 clients with post-traumatic stress disorder, 215 clients with bipolar disorder and over 2,000 clients with adjustment disorders.
On December 1, Lindsay said, “People should be able to come in and pick up where they left off.”