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Partner outreach: Multnomah County staffers tour Harbors

a tour of Harbor
Heidi Scott, Harbors program director, and Multnomah County employees examine one of the outside yards through a window during a tour of Harbors in late August. Such tours are part of an ongoing outreach to community partners from around the state.

As part of the ongoing effort to build bridges to community partners, Oregon State Hospital hosted a delegation of Multnomah County mental health workers in late August. The 10 individuals toured Harbors, the OSH Admissions and Stabilization wing, to get a feel for what happens when an individual is sent from their county to the state mental hospital.


The tour was led by Heidi Scott, Harbors program director, and Aaron Baer, admissions manager.


The group saw a living unit in Harbors and also met with forensic psychologist Mandy Davies of the Forensic Evaluation Service (FES).


"As a unit, we wanted to see the continuum of care and what kinds of services were offered," said Scott Williams, lead worker among the mental health consultants in the county health department. "Overall, we felt the facility is state of the art, and it was good for us to see where our clients are going — and where they come back from."


Scott said the tours are part of her vision for improved communication with the hospital's community partners. That includes increasing opportunities for collaboration on how to provide the appropriate level of care for forensic mental health patients, and consistency of care from one institution to another as patients move through the system.


"In a nutshell, the tours give our community partners a look at the positive changes that are happening here, both in the facility and the delivery of services," she said. "And it helps to build relationships.


"It gives people an opportunity to ask questions about our actual mission and services, instead of relying on possible misperceptions they may get through other sources," Scott continued. "One of the goals that Aaron (Baer, admissions manager) and I have as we develop the admissions program is regular communication with our partners, so that when questions arise regarding admissions, there is a personal connection as a foundation to discuss issues and concerns."


Those on the tour included county mental health consultants, one RN and one nurse practitioner.


Davies explained the laws and evaluation processes regarding criminal defendants sent to OSH under Oregon statutes to be restored to a condition that allows them to stand trial and understand their criminal responsibility.


a tour of Harbor
Mandy Davies, left, forensic psychologist, describes the evaluation process for patients sent by court order to Oregon State Hospital to visitors from Multnomah County on a tour of Harbors.

Also attending was Jean Dentinger, program manager for Multnomah's diversion courts, who discussed the county's program to divert persons with mental illness from justice system to mental health treatment system. Her program works with the courts to get individuals released to community facilities instead of being jailed while they face charges; or to get them out of jail and into treatment facilities as appropriate; or to get those who are at OSH released to community programs once they're stabilized.


"We'll engage with them at any time during that whole period, whether they're in jail, in court, at OSH or in the community," Dentinger said.


"I feel that information is best communicated person by person," Scott said. "We are communicating with small groups of people who can share information with other people in their communities."


It is that kind of communication that helps ensure that each patient receives the right care in the right place at the right time.