Blue Mountain closes, three new centers to open

oha_logo_lrgThree new residential mental health facilities are being built and expected to open in February in Pendleton, Oregon in response to the closure of the Blue Mountain Recovery Center, eastern Oregon’s only state-run mental hospital.

Each facility will have five beds. One will be an acute crisis center, allowing police to take people suffering from severe mental health problems to the center for 48 hours. The second and third will be transitional treatment homes—one for people between 17 and 24 years old who are transitioning from institutions to living independently, the third for adults who were housed at the Oregon State Hospital.

The facilities are located across the street from Blue Mountain. The hospital’s closure—set for March 2014—is the result of a decision by the state legislature to not pay to renovate Blue Mountain, but to instead build a new state hospital in Junction City by 2015.

But the decision drew ire, including many in Pendleton deeply concerned about the loss of 143 jobs. Blue Mountain was expected to close at the end of this month, but an eleventh hour extension made by the state is giving remaining patients more time to transfer to a new facility, and for the three new ones to open.

Some Blue Mountain employees are expected to begin working at the new facilities, which will each employ between 12 and 15 people.

The changes come at a heady time for mental health in Oregon—the state continues to struggle with finding more funding for community-based mental health programs and a checkered reputation for its mental health programs. Funding for community mental health programs is becoming a big priority for the state Legislature, which is expected to allocate more funding for such programs during its upcoming February session.