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Cascadia Health security guard hospitalized after stabbing

The alleged assailant had previously received services at the health center without incident, according to a court filing
November 29, 2023

This story has been updated with a statement from Oregon AFSCME. 

For a second time in five months, an employee of behavioral health provider Cascadia Health was stabbed while on the job — this time allegedly by a former client who was apparently experiencing delusions.

The latest incident occurred Monday when Joshua Collmar allegedly stabbed a security officer at Cascadia’s Garlington Health Center in Northeast Portland. The guard was hospitalized with five to six stab wounds that were not life-threatening, according to court records.

The incident comes months after the fatal stabbing of another employee of Cascadia, and amid heightened safety concerns among other frontline behavioral health workers as well as employees at Oregon hospitals.

Cascadia, a large social services nonprofit based in Portland, issued a press statement indicating that management closed Garlington through Tuesday and that no other staff or other patients were harmed.

 “As we learn more about today’s incident, we are immensely thankful that our colleague is in stable condition,” Derald Walker, president and CEO of Cascadia Health, said in the statement. “Cascadia Health is cooperating with the investigation and will continue to assess the situation. In addition, we will work to address the immediate and ongoing emotional toll and offer support to those involved.”

The statement offered few additional details and referred further questions to Portland police. However, a probable cause affidavit filed by prosecutors in Multnomah County Circuit Court provides a glimpse into what police saw when they responded to the incident Monday.

That morning, officers arrived at Garlington where they found Collmar pinned down by multiple people, according to the affidavit. Police arrested Collmar and noticed multiple slice wounds on his hands as they placed him into handcuffs.

The receptionist at Garlington told police that they saw Collmar enter the building, walk up behind the security guard and place him in a headlock before stabbing him multiple times, according to the document. Other employees intervened and pinned Collmar on the floor until law enforcement arrived. Another employee grabbed the knife. 

A staff member told police that she tried to calm Collmar down once he was pinned. The staffer said that Collmar stated “he was a sleeper soldier and that an electric voice in his head was telling him to kill people,” according to the document. 

The security guard was transported to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in North Portland where he was treated. While at the hospital, the security guard told a detective that Collmar had previously been to Garlington for treatment “without any issues,” according to the affidavit. The guard told police that the attack began when he approached Collmar to greet him. 

A police detective reported the security guard had been stabbed in his back, left hip, left arm and head, according to the document. 

Cascadia is a large Portland-based nonprofit that provides mental health, addiction treatment, primary care and other services. Garlington is one of four health centers it operates. 

In July, Haley Rogers was fatally stabbed while working an overnight shift alone at McCarthy Place, a 10-bed group home operated by Cascadia Health in Gresham. The man accused of stabbing Rogers, James Calvin Smith, has been charged with second-degree murder. 

Rogers’ death spotlighted longstanding concerns from behavioral health workers about workplace violence and whether Cascadia had done enough to protect their safety. In response, Cascadia launched a review of the incident to prevent others from happening in the future. 

In the wake of Rogers’ death, Oregon AFSCME, a union that represents behavioral health workers at Cascadia, publicly raised safety concerns on their behalf, saying the majority of Cascadia’s workers named safety as their primary concern when contract negotiations began in May. Among their concerns: employees working overnight shifts alone. Cascadia has since required two people to be on all overnight shifts. 

Asked for additional comment on the latest incident, Cascadia declined. 

Oregon AFSCME issued a statement to The Lund Report Thursday indicating that it will continue to work toward finding "solutions that keep providers and clients safe."

"Oregon AFSCME’s number one priority has and will continue to be the safety and well-being of our members and the individuals and communities they serve," reads the statement. "This second incident of violence against a staff member at Cascadia in six months, cannot and will not stand. Workers and clients have the right to feel safe. This is a collective failure of the state and Multnomah County in their duty to address these serious safety concerns."

Collmar is being held at the Multnomah County Detention Center and has been charged with second-degree attempted murder, second-degree assault and unlawful use of a weapon. 

The attorney representing Collmar did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

You can reach Jake Thomas at [email protected] or via X @jakethomas2009.


Submitted by Maureen Nash on Thu, 11/30/2023 - 13:27 Permalink

This is a very sad story. It sounds like another example of the failure of the behavioral health laws in Oregon to allow people in need of treatment over their objection to receive it. Until Oregon has a functional BH system where those who need treatment for psychosis receive it in a legally prescribed manner, these tragedies will continue. I am sure many incidents do not reach the news. The reason that laws allow for court commitment and treatment over objection in every state and most countries is because of the very high rates of anosognosia-the neurological deficit which makes people with certain brain diseases unable to appreciate that they are ill and need treatment. This kind of humane treatment has been abandoned in Oregon and along with it, the ability of those suffering psychosis and anosognosia to live a life without this type of suffering. I have met women who killed their children, men who tried to kill their wives etc when psychotic. When these same people are treated and no longer psychotic, they are not happy that no one saved them and their loved ones.