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New mental health crisis center offers path to healing

Multnomah County Crisis Assessment and Treatment Center community partners
Joanne Fuller (Chief Operating Officer, Multnomah County), Ashleigh Brenton, Len Ray (Administrator, Adult Mental Health Services, OHA), Anne Bakar (President and CEO, Telecare Corporation), Ed Blackburn (Executive Director, Central City Concern), Jeff Cogen (Multnomah County Chair), The Honorable Sam Adams (Mayor, City of Portland)

For people experiencing a mental health crisis, having a safe, local place to stabilize can make all the difference. In Multnomah County, a new secure center will serve some 850 residents a year who do not need hospital-level care.

The Multnomah County Crisis Assessment and Treatment Center (CATC) opened June 21. The secure facility has 16 beds. Patients will stay there from four to 14 days.

The center is a collaborative effort of the Oregon Health Authority, Multnomah County, the city of Portland, and Central City Concern. It is operated by Telecare. At an event celebrating the center's opening, advocates discussed the positive impact CATC will have on the community.

Len Ray, Addictions and Mental Health Services administrator for the Oregon Health Authority, said CATC's purpose is to get people the right treatment at the right time so that they can truly recover and go on with their lives. They will discover that “they hold the keys to their own lives,” he said.

Ashleigh Brenton, a mental health consumer and advocate, told the story of a mental health crisis that left her jailed and later hospitalized at Oregon State Hospital. Experiences like Brenton's can make people feel terrified, disoriented and helpless, but she said that a center like this one would have changed her life.

“People will see the success of those coming in and out of this facility and when word gets out, people will begin to get the treatment they need,” she said. “When they leave this place, they will have a plan of action and a way to follow through with their treatment.”