Unity Center serves over 7,000 patients in first year
A year ago, today, the Unity Center for Behavioral Health opened its doors to the public to fulfill a critical need in the community. Unity Center was founded to provide immediate psychiatric care and a path to recovery for people experiencing a mental health crisis. The center is a unique collaboration among four Portland-area health care systems: Adventist Health, Kaiser Permanente, Legacy Health and Oregon Health & Science University.
Fast forward 12 months and it is amazing how far the hospital, its patients, staff and community partners have come. With construction completed in early January, Unity Center today is a 109,270-square foot, 24-hour behavioral health services center that features the first emergency room in Oregon and Southwest Washington explicitly designed to deliver immediate psychiatric care while honoring the principles of “trauma-informed care”.
The challenge for Portland and many other cities across the country is that far too many behavioral health patients end up seeking relief and treatment in Emergency Departments (ED) that are ill-equipped to provide psychiatric care. In one year, Unity successfully reduced the number of behavioral health patients who show up in hospital EDs seeking treatment. For example, Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center has seen a 71 percent decrease in the hours spent on “ED diversion status” due to overcrowding. Since opening a year ago, Unity has treated nearly 5,000 patients in the Psychiatric Emergency Service (PES) and discharged 1,700 patients from an inpatient unit.
In addition, Unity is able to begin treating these patients faster with doctors and nurses who are trained in mental health. The wait time for a bed in a hospital for behavioral health patients in crisis used to average between 40 to 60 hours at some of the busiest EDs. The average wait time for a bed at Unity is eight hours.
As Unity marks its first year in operation, the founding health systems are pleased to announce the addition of five new adult inpatient beds beginning April 2018. With those beds added, Unity Center will offer 85 adult inpatient beds and 22 inpatient beds for adolescents ages nine through 17.
“Coming to Unity is often a first step in a patient’s journey to recovery. It’s not uncommon that our patients need services from community care providers and mental health professionals in order to continue getting well,” said Dr. Chris Farentinos, vice president of Unity Center. “Working with dozens of community-based organizations, we strive to create a seamless transition for patients who are leaving the hospital after receiving around the clock psychiatric care.”
Unity Center partners with several area behavioral health organizations to ensure patients have access to the support services they need. Our partners include: CareOregon, Cascadia Behavioral Health, Central City Concern, De Paul Treatment Centers, FolkTime, Hooper, Kaiser Permanente, Lifeworks Northwest, NARA (Native American Rehabilitation Association of the Northwest), and Western Psychological and Counseling Services. Of the patients discharged from Unity Center inpatient units, 88 percent make it to their first community appointment within seven days from discharge. This success metric is eight percentage points above the Oregon Health Authority’s quality ratings for behavioral health inpatient facilities.
Unity Center ultimately benefits human health and wellbeing, lowering costs in health care, law enforcement, and the justice system.
For media inquiries contact: Kristin Whitney