A heart-wrenching fact: individuals who struggle with severe and persistent mental illness die 20 to 30 years sooner than those without mental illness. Just as distressing, research shows these individuals’ deaths are typically not due to mental illness, but to other health problems – hypertension, asthma, diabetes – that haven’t been adequately treated.
Now Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare is adding primary care to the mental health, addiction and housing services it offers clients, taking a whole health care approach to address this disparity.
“We believe integrated services can improve healthcare delivery and help people live longer and healthier lives,” said Dr. Jeffrey Eisen, Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare Chief Medical Officer. “By offering primary care together with mental healthcare and housing services, we’ll provide continuity of care for our clients, helping them reach their treatment goals and achieve recovery.”
Services include health screening and doctor visits – and a new pharmacy coming to Garlington
Cascadia will open primary care services for clients at its Woodland Park and Plaza Health Centers. The services expand to the new Garlington Health Center when it opens this spring. The Garlington Health Center will be a flagship site for Cascadia with housing, mental health, addictions, wellness, lab and pharmacy all in one place. The pharmacy will also be open to the general community.
All clients will receive care by a team of healthcare specialists, composed of primary care providers and clinical specialists.
The services are comprehensive: a client completes a health screen, a risk assessment, and participates in the gathering of baseline health measures, including body mass index and blood pressure. Then, depending on the person’s needs, they may be seen by a primary care provider, enrolled in a program to quit smoking, helped to find housing, introduced to a mental health practitioner, or welcomed into a health and wellness group, among many examples.
Research suggests access to integrated primary care, mental health and substance use recovery services also help individuals avoid the need to use costly services with uncertain long-term outcomes, such as the emergency room.
National pilot program studies integrated approach
Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare was named a Certified Community Behavioral Health Center, or CCBHC, last year as part of a national two-year pilot program to measure the benefits of integrating mental health treatment, substance use support and physical health care.
Oregon is one of just eight states chosen to participate in the CCBHC program, and Cascadia’s three Portland health centers are among only 21 selected statewide.
“Our transition to an integrated, whole health care model is all about better serving our clients,” said Derald Walker, Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare President & CEO. “We’re especially grateful for the expertise and energy of our employees as we take this innovative approach to care.”
By Jennifer Moffatt