Cascadia fires 108 people, plans for more

Cascadia announces reductions, bracing for more state budget cuts, while reorganizing mental health services to further cut high hospitalization rates; Cascadia press release 10/24/02

Contact: Mark Schorr, Communications Director (503) 238-0780 xt 245

Multnomah County’s largest nonprofit provider of mental health services, Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare, Inc, announced plans today to sharply reduce expenses and reduce the size of its workforce.

Cascadia serves about 80 percent of adults receiving mental health and addiction treatment in Multnomah County under the Oregon Health Plan.

“Our highest priority is to continue providing quality behavioral health services to this region,” said Leslie Ford, Cascadia CEO. “The cost-savings plan is driven by three primary forces:

  • Continued streamlining of administrative and program management structures following the creation of Cascadia, formed this year by the consolidation of several major local nonprofits.
  • Lower than expected revenue under a new Multnomah County contract put in place earlier this year for out patient mental health care.
  • Anticipation of more than $100 million cuts in Oregon mental health spending this year after next January’s special election on a legislative-sponsored tax increase proposal.”

Today Cascadia completed internal announcements of staff cuts. About ten percent, or 108 fulltime positions will be eliminated effective November 7th. The layoffs and cost-cutting moves Cascadia to its goal of a ten percent budget reduction, Ford said. “We will continue to provide services to those who need it most. Consumers will get a chance to discuss their treatment plans face to face with a case manager or counselor.”

Ford noted that every effort was made to analyze resources, reduce overhead costs, and minimize the number of people being laid off. “This has been a difficult and painful decision process, as so many of our staff have worked so long and hard. But the mandate from our stakeholders is clear.”

Cascadia currently operates from 80 locations in Multnomah, Washington and Marion counties. As part of Cascadia’s cost-cutting, a downtown site at the Board of Trade building, a small Gresham site on Roberts Avenue, a Southeast Portland site at 67th and Foster and an administrative office near Lloyd Center are being closed.

Cascadia also operates more than 800 units of specialty housing in the County. While a few units will be closed in the short term, more than 150 new units will be opened in the next two years, Ford adds, explaining that having viable housing options for the mentally ill can often prevent them needing more crisis-oriented services, as well as providing a better quality of life.

At the same time, Cascadia has implemented a new service delivery plan designed to increase attention to clients most likely to end up in the hospital. Please see the attached Philosophy of Care for more information.

“Our initial efforts are showing success. Expanded mobile response teams and opening three walk-in clinics has cut Multnomah County’s higher-than-average rate of hospitalization,” Ford said. “Our new approach will cut the rate even further, meaning more funds for out-patient care that will keep patients out of the hospital in the first place.”

Cascadia, a community-governed nonprofit, provides a comprehensive menu of behavior healthcare services with programs for mental health counseling, housing, and addiction therapy for drug, alcohol, and gambling abuse. It was formed by the joining of five major, long-time behavioral healthcare providers.

In 1998, Delaunay Family of Services and Mental Health Services West merged into Unity, which also picked up programs in Northeast Portland after Garlington Center closed. Mt. Hood Community Mental Health and Network Behavioral HealthCare merged in January 2002, and acquired Unity in July 2002.

With more than 1,000 employees, Cascadia treats about 20,000 people throughout Multnomah, Washington and Marion counties.