National News

New mental health hospital in Portland already making a big difference

Posted June 6

— A new emergency hospital that serves people in mental health crisis has already served more than 1,600 patients in the few months since it opened its doors.

The Unity Center for Behavioral Health began operations in late January, offering emergency psychiatric services, as well as long-term inpatient care.

According to Dr. Chris Farentinos, Unity's Vice President, 77 percent of the the patients that walk into the Psychiatric Emergency Unit are stabilized and discharged within 24 hours.

Farentinos said nearly all those patients will already have an appointment for counseling or treatment services.

So far, the hospital has served primarily people who have been transferred from other emergency rooms, or have walked in voluntarily.

"Individuals that are not mandated to be in treatment at all, they're just walking in, hearing from a friend that this is a good place to be and coming in," said Farentinos.

Samantha Osborne, a peer support supervisor with the organization Folk Time, interacts directly with patients who come to Unity looking for help.

"There's this true commitment to really interacting with people in a different way," said Osborne.

Osborne herself was hospitalized several years ago during a mental health crisis. During her stay, Osborne said, doctors advised her to quit her job and go on disability.

"I got this message that there's something really wrong with me and I wasn't able to function in the world," said Osborne.

Years later, she approaches people seeking treatment at Unity on their level, as someone with personal experience.

Osborne said she's already seen success stories, and is optimistic there will be more in the future.

"I think that some place like Unity really would have helped me because I see the commitment to really giving the message that there's hope," said Osborne.

Starting May 2, the Unity Center increased its operations, accepting patients by police transport.

The hospital serves roughly 50 patients per day.

Copyright 2017 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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