Washington County cancels its annual contract with Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare

First, some recent context!

New, and sad -> Email from Derald Walker, CEO of Cascadia to all staff, June 5 2008 – Subject: Status Update

From the Portland Mercury, May 30, 2008 – County Fucks Up Mental Health, Asks People With Mental Illness, “How Does it Feeeeel?”

Email from Mary Monnat, CEO of LifeWorks to all staff, May 29, 2008 – Subject: Update on Lifeworks NW Response to Community Needs

Email “memo” from Washington County Heath and Human Services, May 28 2008 – To Washington County Behavioral Health System Partners

Email from Derald Walker, CEO of Cascadia to all staff, May 27 2008 – Subject: Washington and Multnomah Counties

Web site posting from Joanne Fuller, DHS chief, May 9 2008 – news about $2.5 million dollar “loan” – PDF

Questions and answers about Mental Health Services in Multnomah County and Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare, posted May 9 2008 – PDF

Email from Derald Walker, CEO of Cascadia to all staff, May 6 2008 – Subject: Still more progress

Email from Derald Walker, CEO of Cascadia to all staff, May 5 2008 – Subject: We’re making progress

From the Oregonian, May 30, 2008

Officials fear the health provider’s financial problems could put county clients at risk

Washington County is canceling its $2 million annual contract with Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare over concerns that the health provider’s financial troubles put county clients at risk.

A month ago, the county got word twice within about 10 days that Cascadia might have to quickly close its two centers in the county, a move that would have serious consequences for its vulnerable patients.

“The bottom line is they’re experiencing some pretty significant financial instability,” said Rod Branyan, director of Health and Human Services for Washington County.

Branyan notified Cascadia officials a week ago that the county would not renew the contract at the end of the fiscal year. Beginning July 1, two other health providers now operating on contract with Washington County are expected to assume Cascadia’s leases and patient loads.

LifeWorks Northwest, which is based in Cedar Mill, will oversee the center on Millikan Way in Beaverton, and Portland-based Coda will take over the downtown Hillsboro center.

The hope is that LifeWorks and Coda will hire Cascadia staff, who will continue to provide mental health and addiction counseling to the same clients.

“Our goal — I think everyone’s — is to have the least disruption possible,” said Mary Monnat, president and CEO of LifeWorks.

Jim Clay, communications director for Cascadia, said patients’ needs are the nonprofit’s top priority. During a briefing Wednesday of Cascadia staff, that concern was uppermost even among those worried about losing their jobs, he said.

Cascadia intends to send a letter to all clients, urging them to contact their current counselor or clinician and set up an appointment to discuss the transition, Clay said.

The Forest Grove School District is expected to take over Cascadia programs in the school district and hire their employees, according to a letter sent Tuesday to Cascadia staff from Chief Executive Officer Derald Walker.

Cascadia provides treatment, housing and emergency services to more than 20,000 clients statewide and operates 90 facilities in Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Lane and Marion counties.

After years of rapid growth, the company has increasingly struggled to cover costs. In recent months, it ousted its entire executive team, cut the ranks of upper management by 40 percent and staff by 20 percent to regain stable financial footing.

Earlier this month, state and Multnomah County officials agreed to provide as much as $2.5 million in loans to keep Cascadia operating for two months.

Although Cascadia is the dominant mental-health provider in Multnomah County, it has a much smaller presence in Washington County. The nonprofit provides mental-health services to about 400 people, or 8 percent of those served through Washington County. It offers addiction counseling to about 300 people, or 13 percent of those served through the county government. At least seven other agencies provide mental health or addiction services, Branyan said.

Washington County is Cascadia’s second-largest client after Multnomah County, but a far distant second, accounting for less than 5 percent of the nonprofit’s business, Clay said.