When Portland’s Unity Center for Behavioral Health opened three years ago this month, it was hailed as a potential game changer for mental health care in the city.
Instead, the psychiatric hospital designed to offer both emergency room and short-term care is overcrowded and mired in financial woes — and proposed solutions have fallen short.
On the latest episode of Beat Check with The Oregonian, Molly Harbarger and Brad Schmidt describe the financial, structural and systemic woes plaguing the Northeast Portland facility.
Unity was supposed to be an alternative place to treat severely mentally ill people who would otherwise end up in emergency rooms or jails. The facility now serves as the primary backstop for police, hospitals and other players in the Portland metro area. It’s often unable to accommodate people seeking treatment.
Harbarger and Schmidt talked about their recent investigations into Unity, it’s financial troubles and the scandal-plagued California facility it was supposed to emulate.
They also talked about how mental health and psychiatric health issues are exacerbated in Oregon due to a lack of access to specialized facilities and how the state stifled a potential competitor years ago that aimed to offer more bed space for patients who were also experiencing mental illness.
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