PENDLETON – Umatilla County is one of the few counties in the state to have two community health providers. Most only have one. Lifeways handles mental health services and the county itself provides treatment for substance abuse disorders.
Commissioner John Shafer said he noticed while employed at the sheriff’s office that having two providers creates problems.
“Somebody is in crisis, and they say, ‘It’s a mental health issue,’” he said. “Then Lifeways would get on the scene and say, ‘No, I think this is a substance use disorder.’ So you end up having fingers pointing every which way except the right way, which is to help somebody.”
Shafer said the county has issued a request for proposals specifically to find one provider for both services.
“What this will do is allow a provider to provide service under one roof,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to point the finger at yourself.” The proposals will be opened on April 26 at 4 p.m.