County commissioners joined local leaders and community members in N.E. Portland Jan. 5 to celebrate opening the Unity Center for Behavioral Health.
Multnomah County invested $3 million in the treatment center, which opens later this month. Unity is a collaboration among Adventist Health, Kaiser Permanente, Legacy Health and Oregon Health & Science University that centralizes services previously spread across emergency rooms. The goal: to help people in a mental health crisis get help as quickly as possible.
The facility will be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and staffed by mental health and addictions professionals. Once they’re admitted, patients will have access to immediate and ongoing mental health support based on their individual needs.
The center has beds for 88 adults and 22 young people. Unity will also provide psychiatric emergency services for up to 50 adults each day.
Chair Deborah Kafoury welcomed Unity as a big step towards improving access to mental health care.
Staff from community-based behavioral health organizations will be available to help patients access ongoing treatment. Peers who have recovered from mental illness will be on site to support patients with their lived experience.
For Commissioner Loretta Smith, the center is an opportunity. Thanks to Unity, she said, county residents who are vulnerable will have better access to safe and secure treatment.
“There’s a gap that’s in our community to help our most vulnerable, and that includes our seniors, folks who are veterans, and our families,” she said. “We need to make sure we offer those safety net services.”
Gov. Kate Brown opened the ceremony, saying Unity is unique because it brings together hospitals, government agencies and community-based providers.
“We are making steady progress in creating an integrated, community-based behavioral health delivery system that places patients in the center and improves quality and cost,” she said.
Looking forward, Kafoury said she hopes to see more projects like Unity. That’s because, she said, big issues can’t be solved without partnership.
“The problems we face are so big and so complex,” Kafoury said. “Finding solutions requires us all working in the same direction. And it’s up to us to figure it out.”