CCOs Effective in Integrating Healthcare and Housing

Pilots around the state show early success with “habit of collaboration”

When Kenny La Point’s son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, Oregon’s first “housing integrator” was then a member/user on the Central Oregon coordinated care organization’s community advisory council.

La Point was involved with the rehab of a 70-unit apartment building in Bend to add washers and dryers to each apartment, freeing space once used as a laundry room for Housing Works to partner with Mosaic Medical, a federally qualified health clinic, to establish a community-based medical clinic.

“We can’t keep working in silos. It’s the same exact clients,” said La Point.

In the mental health realm, Greater Oregon Behavioral Health Inc. and Umpqua Health Alliance, the Douglas County CCO, last winter each provided $28,000 to rent apartments for those with mental illness coming out of incarceration through the county mental health/drug court. The Douglas County Housing Authority finds available, low- barrier housing. Community Health Alliance and ADAPT provide intensive wraparound case management.

If the clients succeed, they get to keep the apartment, said Kevin Campbell, CEO of GOBHI. “We know where they are, we know they have a roof over their heads. We can avoid higher costs later with a smaller investment earlier.”

GOBI, which bears the risk for acute care and now long-term care in two CCOs, is already in preliminary discussions to replicate the Douglas County model in its Eastern Oregon CCO.

La Point describes Portland as the “toughest place” to integrate health and housing due to the number of agencies at the table. But some nine entities did work – and invest -- together for 1,400 residents in 11 subsidized apartment buildings for low-income seniors and people with disabilities.

Cedar Sinai executive director David Fuks said the typical resident was taking five medications a day with no plan or method to manage them before the creation of an LLC to provide what Fuks calls an “aggregation of services” with firewalls between the landlords and the health providers for confidentiality.

Now the ground floor of one centrally located building serves as the location for a Providence ElderPlace PACE program, a clinic, a primary and urgent care provider, mental health clinical space and office space for Asian Health & Service Center and Lifeworks NW staff.

Health Navigators, funded by CareOregon, are available to all residents, whether or not they are insured by CareOregon -- connecting residents to county and veteran services, answering health questions and helping find primary care providers and medication management support.

A volunteer resident service exchange, Give2Get, connects residents who may be better able to, say, shop for groceries with another resident who can cook.

Michael Parkhurst, program officer for the Meyer Memorial Trust, wants to push bureaucracies that don’t usually talk to each other to “develop a habit of collaboration” around housing and wraparound services. Applications are due August 15 for $900,000 over the next two years to fund seven to 12 projects statewide that show what he calls “systems alignment” between housing and services such as healthcare.

“Folks closest to the problem can solve these issues if they have the flexibility,” Parkhurst said.

Jan can be reached at [email protected].

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