Health Share of Oregon Receives $500k Grant to Launch Mental Health Treatment Program for Former Offenders in Multnomah County

First “forensic” ACT program will focus on justice-involved individuals diagnosed with severe mental illness to reduce police contact by 75%

Health Share of Oregon, the state’s largest coordinated care organization, has been awarded a $499,999 grant by the Addictions and Mental Health Division of the Oregon Health Authority to develop a Forensic Assertive Community Treatment (FACT) program to assist adults who experience the most severe symptoms of mental illness and the greatest functional impairment in major areas of life, including housing and employment. Correspondingly, with their serious mental illness, these individuals are often frequent users of emergency rooms and tend to have repeated contact with the criminal justice system.


“It’s always been a goal of Health Share to work with our partners to strengthen the mental health crisis system in the communities we serve,” said Janet L. Meyer, CEO of Health Share. “The FACT program, which provides community-based treatment, is an important step in this direction.”


Health Share will partner with Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare and the Multnomah County Department of County Human Services to develop the first FACT program in Multnomah County, providing intensive community-based treatment for up to 35 clients over the twelve-month funding period. The program, which will launch later this year, could receive future funding based on results.


“Data indicates that up to 40% of people jailed in Multnomah County are experiencing mental health issues,” said Deborah Friedman, Behavioral Health Director for Health Share. “Jail services to help individuals are at capacity. The result is that many of those most in need of mental health care do not receive an intake assessment, access to mental health services or transition planning before reentering the community. The FACT program will work with these individuals as they leave the justice system to ensure they receive the mental health treatment and social service support they need.” By stabilizing clients in their treatment and housing, the goal of Health Share and its program partners is to reduce both use of emergency room visits and interaction with the police and criminal justice system.


“This new team will fill a long identified gap in the community system of care to address the unique needs of individuals with mental illness who have frequent contact with criminal justice, public safety and hospitals,” added David Hildago, Mental Health Director for Multnomah County Department of County Human Services. “We know Forensic ACT services work and we will now be able to provide better care to meet the needs of individuals at the intersection of the mental health and criminal justice systems. With this new ACT program focused on the criminal justice population, Multnomah County and Health Share will have three 24/7 community-based ACT teams.”  


As Health Share’s partner in the development of a FACT program, Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare is strategically positioned to leverage its existing resources and collaborative relationships with law enforcement, the criminal justice system and other community partners to meet the unique needs of these individuals. Community-based treatment includes an individualized plan with a network of providers, family members, spiritual leaders, indigenous healers and peer wellness specialists. The clients will be encouraged to have a voice in their own treatment plan and recovery.


"Assertive community treatment is a well-established and effective means of assisting people in their recovery,” noted Maggie Bennington-Davis, Chief Medical and Operating Officer for Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare.  “Cascadia is very excited about this opportunity to improve the mental health system experience for people served by Health Share."


The twelve-month goal of the program for these individuals is to reduce their placement in the State Hospital, jail or contact with police by 75%; reduce emergency room visits and psychological inpatient admissions by 75%; and to increase their housing stability by 75%. By the end of the grant period, more than half of those served by the program will be living in affordable housing, 80% will have a primary care provider and 30% will have employment.


In addition to clinical case management, other facets of the FACT program will include crisis assessment and intervention, coordinating legal needs, housing and wrap around support, family support and education, substance abuse services, supported employment and other support services.


About Health Share of Oregon
Serving over 182,000 members in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties, Health Share of Oregon is a unique community-wide partnership created to ensure quality, cost-effective physical, dental and mental health care for Oregon Health Plan members. With a network of over 18,000 providers, including over 900 dentists, Health Share provides an integrated community delivery system with the objective of achieving better care, better health and lower costs for the Medicaid population and for the region.

Health Share is a collaborative of 11 founding partners: Adventist Health, CareOregon, Central City Concern, Clackamas County, Kaiser Permanente, Legacy Health, Multnomah County, Oregon Health & Science University, Providence Health & Services, Tuality Health Alliance and Washington County.

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“Data indicates that up to 40% of people jailed in Multnomah County are experiencing mental health issues,” Does this Data erase the crimes these people committed to land them in jail in the first place? I beleive most people would say NO. Howabout we take this 500K and give to to the victims, rather than the offenders? It always amazes me how the upper income folks of our community, who are insulated from crime, are the first to make concessions for criminals. I find it OFFENSIVE. Do we really want to provide support to a thief , or rapist? Becuase the fact is- THAT is who is in jail- Theives and Rapists.