Press Release: Unity Center Expands Capacity with the Addition of Five New Inpatient Beds

Unity Center celebrates its One Year Anniversary with over 7,000 patients served in 2017 

Portland, Ore. (January 31, 2018). Today, as Adventist Health, Kaiser Permanente, Legacy Health and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) mark the one year anniversary of the opening of Unity Center for Behavioral Health, the four health systems are pleased to announce the addition of five new adult inpatient beds beginning April 2018. Upon completion of the additional beds, Unity Center will offer 85 adult inpatient beds and 22 inpatient beds for adolescents ages nine through 17. 

"Unity Center is decreasing unnecessary hospitalizations for our patients, discharging 80 percent of patients within 20 hours of stabilization, crisis intervention and discharge planning; however, as the number of individuals seeking care in the Psychiatric Emergency Service (PES) increases, we anticipate the need for a few more beds inpatient treatment" said Dr. Chris Farentinos, vice president of Unity Center. "We are adding five adult beds to increase our capacity for inpatient treatment." 

Faster access to care for patients 
The Unity Center 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 and a path to recovery for people experiencing a mental health crisis. The center was created with the goal of reducing the boarding time of behavioral health patients in hospital Emergency Departments (ED) and connecting patients with the right services upon discharge. The wait time for a bed in a hospital for behavioral health patients in crisis used to average between 40-60 hours for some of the busiest EDs. The average wait time for a bed at Unity is now eight hours. This significant reduction in boarding time also benefits local area EDs. For example, Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center has seen a 71 percent decrease in hours spent on ED diversion status due to overcrowding. Since opening a year ago, Unity has treated nearly 5,000 patients in the PES and discharged 1,700 patients from an inpatient unit. 

Treating behavioral health patients with compassion 
With the help of partners in law enforcement and EMS, Unity Center has made significant headway in re-framing the conversation around how to compassionately treat and care for those experiencing a mental health emergency. For example, Unity has encouraged a model of ambulance transport for individuals in a behavioral health crisis. Today, when police respond to a 911 call about a person in a mental health crisis, there is a community-wide agreement in Portland that patients experiencing a behavioral health crisis will be transported to the hospital via ambulance, not in the back of a police car. In the last year, over 1,197 patients have arrived at Unity Center by ambulance. 

Supporting follow up care 
"For many patients, seeking help at Unity Center is the first step in their journey toward improved mental health," continued Dr. Farentinos. "Partnering with dozens of community-based organizations helps us connect our patients with social services and follow-up care so they continue to receive the support they need after leaving Unity Center." 

Unity Center works with several local 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 metrics for behavioral health inpatient facilities. 

Training new behavioral health care providers 
Unity Center is fulfilling one of its core founding principles, which is to serve as a psychiatric teaching hospital. To date, Unity has trained over a dozen psychiatric residents. In addition, approximately 20 medical students have completed clinical rotations throughout the hospital, under the supervision of Unity's faculty psychiatrists. Unity has also provided training for nearly 500 clinical staff including therapists, behavioral health nurses and social workers as well as non-clinical staff on models of care within behavioral health services. In 2018, Unity Center will launch a preceptorship for Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioners. 

The Unity Center is a revolutionary model for providing crisis mental health services because it spreads the cost and leverages the investment, the expertise and the range of the human, technological and systemic resources of the major stakeholders to meet a pressing need in the community. The collaboration between Adventist Health, Kaiser Permanente, Legacy Health and OHSU ultimately benefits human health and well-being, lowering costs in health care, law enforcement, and the justice system.

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