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eDocTalk article

An idea leads to hope, healing and whole lot of support

January 2017

The concept of Unity Center for Behavioral Health began with the belief that caring for individuals facing a mental health crisis is the right thing to do. It evolved to reality because there was space, agreement to consolidate inpatient mental health services and committed community health care partners. 

And so the journey began

While Legacy initiated the discussion in 2013 around what this new approach might be, OHSU, Adventist Health and Kaiser Permanente were quickly interested in consolidation and collaboration. The partnership was formed.

Having a shared vision and commitment was just the beginning. Space was identified — Legacy donated space in the former Oregon State Hospital space in the Holladay Park Building in Northeast Portland.

Just as importantly, early on a group of partner organization representatives visited Alameda County, California, to learn more about its successful model, which includes a psychiatric emergency service. This and research into other organizations formed the basis for what has become Unity. Five goals were identified as critical to this collaboration:

  1. Trauma-informed care
  2. Psychiatric emergency services
  3. Inpatient services
  4. Integrated community resources
  5. Peer support

Together, this combination of services supported by four partner health care organizations is unique and even groundbreaking. This approach helps patients get the timely care and support they need in the most appropriate setting, with assessment and treatment by trained mental health professionals. Furthermore, Unity Center will be a training facility that trains the physicians and nurses of tomorrow. 

Unprecedented community support and fundraising

Building Unity is truly a community undertaking. Total cost of the project is $43.5 million, most all of which has been raised through philanthropy. It includes a generous $20-million donation from The Robert D. and Marcia H. Randall Charitable Trust, as well as support from many very generous organization and individuals, Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties and the city of Portland.

Legacy Health committed to providing the facility as well as undertaking the complete renovation and redesign of the space. Moving forward, all four health care organizations will share responsibility for oversight; however, Legacy will operate the facility.

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