By Elizabeth Hayes  –  Staff Reporter, Portland Business Journal

Feb 2, 2018, 2:46pm PST

Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare is making good on a goal that was a long time in the making to add primary care to the mental health, addictions and housing services it already offers.

Cascadia will roll out the new services for clients this month at its Woodland Park Health Center, then expand them to Plaza Health Center and the new Garlington Health Center later this spring. The nonprofit hopes to have 1,000 clients in primary care in the first year and 18,000 served within the next two years.

“Cascadia, for many years, has had discussions internally about offering primary care,” said Dr. Jeffrey Eisen, Cascadia’s chief medical officer. “It’s always been a belief and a vision at Cascadia to do this.”

One factor that inspired the idea was the observation that clients “didn’t seem adequately engaged with primary care, although they were engaged with us,” Eisen said. “We’ve been successful in delivering great mental health care. With that trust in mind, we’re hopeful they’ll engage in primary care with us because they know us and trust us.”

Furthermore, he said, research shows that individuals who struggle with severe and persistent mental illness die 20 to 30 years sooner than those without. Those deaths are typically not due to mental illness but to other health problems that haven’t been addressed, such as diabetes and asthma, Eisen said.

The opportunity to add primary care arose when Oregon was selected as a demonstration state for certified behavioral health centers last year. The two-year national pilot program measures the benefits of integrating mental health with substance use services and physical health. Oregon is one of eight states chosen to participate and Cascadia’s three sites are among 21 selected statewide.

Cascadia has hired two providers, but plans to have 11 on staff eventually.

The plan is for clients to first complete a health screen and risk assessment, with baseline health measures. From there, they could be seen by a primary care provider, enrolled in a smoking cessation program or routed to a mental health provider or given assistance in finding housing. It all depends on their needs.


To see the original Portland Business Journal story, click here.

To see the Cascadia Press Release in regards to this story, click here.