Embattled mental healthcare facility says it has a plan for change

Unity Behavioral Health Center in Portland Caleb Diehl Unity Behavioral Health Center in Portland

Trent Green, president of Unity Behavioral Health Care, outlines new strategy following lawsuits and investigations into patient safety.

 


As state and local leaders scramble for solutions to a mental healthcare crisis, Green affirms faith in the “Alameda model” that inspired Unity. Pioneered at a California mental hospital, the approach combines inpatient care, courtrooms and other services under one roof.

“I think the model is right,” Green says. “Like anything new it takes time to adapt.”

Related Story: Mental Math

There’s a lot of money riding on the outcome: Four major healthcare providers—OHSU, Kaiser Permanente, Adventist and Legacy Health—have invested $40 million in the project.

Activists have called the Alameda model into question after a slew of troubling safety violations in Unity’s first year of operation.

Two nurses filed $1 million lawsuits, and the state Occupational Health and Safety Administration fined the facility $1,650 for improperly documenting safety violations. Earlier this month the Oregon Health Authority released a 105-page report detailing safety concerns, suicide attempts and self-harm behaviors.

“The road has certainly been paved with challenges,” Green says. The problems encountered over the past year, he added, “stressed our capabilities, and we’ve learned a number of things.”

He says Unity remains in an experimental “startup phase” and he doesn’t know how long that will last.

Trent Green Unity Center 1Trent Green, President of Legacy Emanuel Medical Center and Unity Center for Behavioral Health. 

After OHA surveryors investigated in May, Green says, Unity began a five-part plan for reform. First, the hospital held a three-day refresher training with staff to standardize safety procedures.“One of the challenges we’ve experienced,” Green says, “is bringing together individuals from four organizations to operate as one.”

Unity removed potentially dangerous objects noted in the OHA report, including plastic spoons, coffee carafes and bathroom doors.

The hospital also made plans to fix blind spots in cameras, streamline documentation, mandate daily reports on unsafe items and change the process for administering medication. Green says he doesn’t know how much the changes will cost overall.

Sixty five of the hospital’s 107 beds are now full. With the changes in place, Green says, “we feel fully confident we can care for patients in a safe and effective manner.”


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Caleb Diehl

Caleb Diehl is a reporter at Oregon Business

1 comment

  • Karen Campbell
    Karen Campbell Tuesday, 28 August 2018 18:42 Comment Link

    You're not in a start up phase Mr. Green. Unity has been open for over a year. There has been ample time to make safety changes, train, staff and improve services. Everything that needs to be fixed should have been in place before Unity opened. There was plenty of time to take care of everything. Unity Administrators were very well aware of all the problems that I've stated and chose not to address them. In fact, according to staff at Multnomah County Mental Health it was covered up. One of the biggest issues is untrained staff and shortage of staff due to people quitting because of unsafe conditions for both staff and patients.

    You also need to rethink the model. Putting a bunch of people together in the same room who are experiencing a mental health crisis is ludicrous. Giving people meds and sending them home without proper treatment isn't caring for people with mental illness. When you have a lot of people housed there who are waiting to go to the State Hospital it doesn't make room for people who equally need mental health treatment.

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