UMATILLA COUNTY — Greater Oregon Behavioral Health Inc. on Friday, Aug, 27, announced its board of directors took action to support the continuity of behavioral health services for Oregon Health Plan members in Umatilla County who are members of the Eastern Oregon Coordinated Care Organization.

GOBHI serves as an administrative services organization on behalf of the EOCCO and is responsible for administering the behavioral health benefit, nonemergent medical transportation and for facilitating community conversations to improve the healthcare system in Eastern Oregon for EOCCO members.

GOBHI also is one of the owners of EOCCO, the entity the state designated to manage healthcare benefits for Oregon Health Plan members in 12 rural and frontier counties. There are approximately 23,000 EOCCO members in Umatilla County.

GOBHI’s announcement comes in the wake of the Umatilla County Board of Commissioners selecting Community Counseling Solutions over Lifeways Inc. as the county’s provider for mental health and substance abuse treatment.

GOBHI in a press release reported its board on Aug. 25 voted to terminate its “Comprehensive Behavioral Health Provider agreement” with Lifeways in Umatilla County effective Nov. 30. The board also adopted a new agreement with Community Counseling Solutions fulfilling this role effective Dec. 1. This timeline coincides with the county’s timeline for transitioning providers.

In each Oregon county, community mental health programs offer an array of behavioral health and support services, as well as crisis response and mobile crisis services. CCS is the provider serving Gilliam, Grant, Morrow and Wheeler counties.

The GOBHI board’s actions represent a step forward in the formal process of service transitioning from Lifeways to CCS.

“We look forward to continuing our work with partners in Umatilla County to make this as smooth a transition as possible,” said Karen Wheeler, GOBHI CEO. “We’re encouraged by conversations with CCS leadership about their commitment to meet the behavioral health needs in this community. We are aligned in our vision to improve service delivery in this county, particularly in the area of crisis response for vulnerable residents.”

CCS will begin operating the Umatilla County substance use disorder services effective Sept. 1, and mental health provider services effective Dec. 1.

Kimberly Lindsay, CCS executive director, said in the press release the organization is “eager to learn more about what has worked and not worked, and are completely committed to providing high quality behavioral health services to those we serve.”

Representatives from CCS, Lifeways and GOBHI are in regular communication regarding the transition, according to Greater Oregon Behavioral Health, “to ensure continuity of operations and clinical care for Umatilla County residents, including EOCCO members.”

“These partnerships are critical,” according to Wheeler. “We must not lose sight of our common goal: making sure Umatilla County residents have the quality services they need to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. We look forward to serving the community in the future.”

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