Cascadia Behavioral Health Tapped for Federal Pilot Program Expanding Mental Health and Substance Use Services for Oregonians

Innovative program provides more service to more people, saving money and improving health

April 3, 2017


As of April 1, 2017, Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare has become a Certified Community Behavioral Health Center (CCBHC) as part of a national pilot program to measure the benefits of expanding the integration of mental, substance use and physical health care. This project places Oregon in the national spotlight for health care reform. Oregon was one of just 8 states chosen to participate in the two –year program, and Cascadia’s three participating clinics are part of only 13 selected statewide.

Deborah Kafoury, Chair of the Multnomah County Commissioner and a staunch advocate for the County’s most vulnerable, says, “This program puts Oregon and Multnomah County on the map as a leader in delivering wraparound mental health and primary care. In uncertain times like these, it’s increasingly more important to have organizations like Cascadia in our community.”

Cascadia’s Chief Clinical Officer Beth Epps explains further, “CCBHC is a federal demonstration project with the purpose of truly understanding the cost of services for those with mental health and substance use or addiction challenges. It’s allowed Cascadia to design a set of services and supports that focus on the whole person – including primary care needs. It’s exciting to help ‘prove out’ a concept that we’ve all know to be true for decades which is – we’re whole humans and our needs don’t exist in silos. It’s an amazing opportunity for Cascadia and for this community.”

“People who have chronic mental health issues often receive less primary care attention than the general population. When they do see a primary care provider, they often present in more advanced stages of physical illness,” shared Neil Falk, M.D., Cascadia’s Interim Chief Medical Officer. “Integrated services will improve healthcare delivery to this population and will allow people to live longer and healthier lives.”

Pilot Program Explores Benefits of Flexible, Holistic Approach to Health Care

The pilot program, called the Excellence in Mental Health Act demonstration, is the largest federal investment in mental health and addiction care in generations and is expected to infuse over $1 billion into the community behavioral health safety net over the course of the program. The demonstration will support clinics in expanding their capacity to serve more Americans in need through a trauma-informed, evidence-based approach to care that provides flexibility for services to be delivered outside the four walls of the clinic.

At Cascadia’s three CCBHC clinics in Multnomah County—the Garlington Center clinic (operating in a temporary location in NE Portland on NE 19th Ave, while the new clinic is under construction); the Plaza clinic in SE Portland; and the Woodland Park clinic at NE 102nd Ave—a patient can not only access primary care, but will receive mental health, substance use recovery, and wellness classes as needed. Recognizing that a stable home is fundamental to health, Cascadia staff are equipped to provide a warm hand-off to colleagues on the agency’s housing side. Complementary programs offer care to address everything from gambling addiction to high-acuity mental health issues to intimate partner abuse.

Benefits Include Expanded Care and Lower Costs

The pilot program provides the opportunity for a range of short-and long-term benefits:

  • More care to more people: Although not previously certified as a CCBHC, Cascadia has long delivered mental health and substance use care. The pilot project’s funding will reimburse Cascadia for this care and will allow the agency to expand both its reach and depth. Ultimately, this will lead to better health for the community’s least-served residents.
  • Expanded behavioral health care: The increased funding will allow Cascadia to bolster its mental health and substance use programming.
  • Reduced community expenses: Community members with easy access to preventative health care, ongoing medical care, and behavioral health services are proven less likely to visit hospital emergency rooms, require intervention from public safety responds, and become involved with the correctional system.
  • Potential for long-term reduced health expenses: Community members who receive physical and behavioral health care are more likely to take care of themselves, and so are less likely to incur expenses for catastrophic care.
  • Strengthened relationships with community partners: As part of the pilot project, Cascadia will strengthen existing relationships and build new ones with other social service agencies.
  • Lowered stigma: Community members who seek out Cascadia for their behavioral health can be seamlessly introduced to primary care and holistic wellness classes. Once patients have bridged this gap, the stigma surrounding behavioral health care diminishes.
  • Increased awareness of available services: As a CCBHC, Cascadia will raise the profile of the availability of care so that the community’s least-served members – those experiencing homelessness, exiting corrections, needing culturally competent care, or living with mental health issues, for example – will know where to go.

ABOUT CASCADIA BEHAVIORAL HEALTHCARE: Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare is a private, not-for-profit whose mission is to provide healing, homes and hope for people living with mental health and addiction challenges. For information on Cascadia’s comprehensive range of innovative clinical and housing support programs, visit: