Mental patients forced to go elsewhere after Cascadia clinic fire

From the Oregonian, October 21 2008

More than 500 mental-health patients will have to go elsewhere for service after a fire destroyed part of a Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare clinic in Northeast Portland last night.

John and Yvonne Garlington

John and Yvonne Garlington

No one was injured by the blaze at Cascadia’s Garlington Center on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., but authorities say it appears to have “suspicious” origins. The cause of the fire that officials say began sometime before 9:52 p.m. is under investigation.

“It’s very important that we get it back up and running,” said Cascadia chief executive Derald Walker. “A lot of the people we serve live in this general area.”

An outcry of public support helped keep the center’s doors open after it nearly shut down this year in the face of severe financial problems at Cascadia.

The center had staff on hand today to help people who showed up for services, and telephoned other patients sending them to Cascadia Plaza about four miles away, Walker said. The Garlington Center served 525 clients, he said.

When the center will again be able to serve patients is unknown. Walker said officials today were still assessing the extent of the damage.

Fire officials estimate $200,000 worth of damage to the structure and an additional $400,000 to the building’s contents.

Walker said that as much as one-third of the building was badly burned, and that smoke damaged other areas. The fire destroyed Cascadia’s main computer, housed at the Garlington Center, but Walker said patient records weren’t lost because the hard copies survived. With the server destroyed, Cascadia cannot use its electronic medical records system and automated billing system until the arrival of a replacement that Walker expected by the week’s end.

The clerical area received the brunt of the damage, Walker said, with computers, copy machines and other business equipment burned in the flames.

“We will take precautions to make sure anyone connected to the Garlington Center who needs services will have a way to get them until it can be repaired,” Multnomah County Board Chairman Ted Wheeler said in a statement. “Given the economic crisis, these are anxious times for everyone. We will make every effort to make sure clients don’t fall through the cracks. Services will not be interrupted.”

EXTRA – NE Portland mental health center fire called ‘suspicious’, from