Central City Concern

Providing comprehensive solutions to ending homelessness and achieving self-sufficiency. Based in Portland, Ore. since 1979.

Lighting the Way for Healthier Communities: Serving Portland, Together

Aug 13, 2020

For our final National Health Center Week installment, we're shining the spotlight on our incredible community partners who have made it possible for us to face the unique challenges of COVID-19 and serve the Portland community together.

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Relationships with government, partner organizations and the entire community have made it possible for Central City Concern to rise to the unique challenges of COVID-19 and protect those who are most at risk of the physical, economic and social impacts. From city, county and state agencies, to other non-profit service providers, to compassionate businesses, we're grateful to all of our community partners for helping us create a solid web of support for those experiencing homelessness. These are a few of the partners who have made it possible for us to keep our doors open through the coronavirus pandemic.

Multnomah County

Before Governor Brown issued Oregon’s shelter-in-place order, CCC’s Incident Management Team was hard at work preparing for the reality of COVID-19. One of our most critical, immediate needs was Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – we didn’t have enough on hand to keep our doors open while keeping our staff and community safe. We sounded the alarm, and Multnomah County swiftly responded with a delivery of much-needed PPE.

“It changed our whole posture on how we could operate safely,” said CCC CEO and President Rachel Solotaroff. “The responsiveness and resourcefulness of the County allowed us to keep our face-to-face, onsite and outreach-based services intact.”

The County’s partnership has been consistent and ongoing. Multnomah County Public Health has provided CCC with crucial guidance on topics including testing, contract tracing and operating safely in congregate settings. The Multnomah County Health Officer, Jennifer Vines, has been especially responsive to our concerns and questions, always a phone call away. Ebony Clarke, Director of Multnomah County’s Mental Health and Addiction Services Division, has provided outstanding leadership to our behavioral health providers. Her ongoing weekly phone calls with providers have been an invaluable resource for sharing concerns, communicating needs and creating community. CCC is grateful for Multnomah County’s leadership and partnership throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

OHSU

Ensuring the safety of our staff, clients and community has been CCC’s priority since the start of the pandemic, and OHSU’s partnership has been critical in helping us keep this promise. OHSU provides free, no-barrier COVID-19 testing to all CCC employees through their convenient, drive-through testing site. No appointment is necessary, making it easy for staff to get tested and quickly receive results. CCC and our employees are grateful – thanks to OHSU, our workforce has been able to stay where they need to be: serving patients and clients. Special shoutout to OHSU’s Occupational Health Manager Misti Powell for making this important partnership possible.

Legacy Health Partners

CCC’s single room occupancy (SRO) buildings and congregate care facilities have remained cluster-free throughout the pandemic – an incredible achievement given the higher risk of transmission associated with these settings. This has been possible in part due to the mobile COVID-19 testing clinic provided by Legacy Health Partners.

When two CCC residents self-reported positive COVID-19 tests, our Chief Medical Officer Dr. Andy Mendenhall reached out to Dr. Nick Kashey at Legacy Health Partners to devise a plan to prevent a potential cluster. Dr. Kashey and his team quickly sprang into action and set up a mobile testing station on the sidewalk outside of the building in less than 24 hours. Over 100 residents and staff were tested and results were available within three days. No other positive cases were found, and residents and staff could breathe a sigh of relief knowing that CCC’s infection prevention protocols have remained effective. CCC is grateful to Legacy Health Partners for helping us keep our communities safe.

CareOregon

Our long-time partner CareOregon has been instrumental in meeting the needs of our patients and keeping CCC sustainable in the face of financial challenges resulting from COVID-19. Early in the pandemic, CareOregon allowed CCC to rapidly transition to virtual appointments through phone and video visits, and even donated phones for clients without access to technology. CareOregon has also made sure that the overall decline in medical visits due to COVID-19didn’t undermine CCC’s financial stability. By supporting CCC through a financial payment model that offsets some of our losses, CareOregon has helped us keep our doors open. Thank you, CareOregon, for ensuring our services remain available to those who need us most during these challenging times.




Lighting the Way for Healthier Communities: Integrated Mental Health Care

Aug 12, 2020

The uncertainty of COVID-19 is impacting many of us, but for people working through severe mental health challenges, the trauma and triggers associated with the pandemic can be especially overwhelming. During National Health Center Week, we want to recognize the important work of our staff at Old Town Recovery Center, who show up every day to provide compassionate, trauma-informed care for individuals experiencing major mental illness.

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Central City Concern’s Old Town Recovery Center (OTRC) has been a mainstay provider for Portlanders experiencing severe mental illness for more than 20 years. The majority of clients experience both mental health and addiction challenges, some are homeless, and all have been impacted by many years of poverty.

For individuals with severe mental illness, it takes a dedicated, interdisciplinary team to work alongside clients and support their success. Through an integrated coordinated care model, patients receive physical and mental health care, medication from OTRC’s onsite pharmacy, and personalized case management tailored to their individual needs. While COVID-19 has brought trauma and triggers – from social isolation to uncertainty about the future – OTRC has maintained its team-based approach, keeping clients grounded in a community committed to helping them heal and meet their goals during these turbulent times.

In less than three days, clinicians made the switch to virtual visits by phone or video – something that hadn’t existed at Old Town Recovery Center before the pandemic. .

Care teams and clinicians are a key ingredient to OTRC’s integrated model. Before the pandemic, nearly all clients enrolled in OTRC’s Intensive Case Management (ICM) program came in to the building for in-person visits with a counselor, psychiatrist or other mental health professional. In order to limit exposure to COVID-19 for clients and staff, the ICM team acted swiftly to ensure clients remained well-connected and supported.

Sally Swain leads up OTRC's Community Outreach Recovery Engagement (CORE) team, where caseloads are small and relationships are close between clients and staff.

In less than three days, clinicians made the switch to virtual visits by phone or video – something that hadn’t existed at OTRC before the pandemic. More than 100 clients without access to technology received cell phones so they could stay in touch.

“The team is doing amazing things,” said Bob Kleinjan, OTRC Clinical Supervisor. “It’s been difficult, and everyone has adapted to really tough circumstances. The fact that people are still showing up and doing their best is truly impressive.”

For clients experiencing the most severe mental health challenges, staff are still providing care onsite, in the field and by phone. The Community Outreach Recovery Engagement (CORE) team serves patients with major mental illness who would otherwise likely cycle in and out of hospitals, shelters or institutions. Caseloads are small on the CORE team and relationships are close.

OTRC's onsite pharmacy is bursting with action as staff work to fill medications.

“We’re in their homes and we’re in the community,” said Sally Swain, program manager for OTRC’s CORE and Assertive Community Team. “We send our clients birthday cards; we know their pets’ and neighbors’ names. We’re a supportive presence in their lives.”

Staff are calling clients daily to check in, delivering medicine and food boxes, and meeting their needs. It just looks a little different – wearing masks and staying six feet apart. But the connection is still there.

Pharmacists also play an important role in OTRC’s coordinated care model, serving as the connective tissue between clients’ primary care and psychiatric care. During COVID-19, the pharmacy remains a busy hub for clients picking up prescriptions and consulting with the pharmacists. For individuals cycling in and out of hospitals or homelessness, keeping track of medications can be a challenge. Pharmacists use tools like bubble-packing all of a client’s medications in one place, encouraging proper dosage and timing for medication adherence.

Netta Holden is an anchor for staff and clients alike. She and her staff set the mood for the first and second floor lobbies, making sure that clients and visitors are taken care of.

One consistent anchor for clients before and during the pandemic has been the staff they see whenever they come in for an appointment or to pick up medication. Netta Holden supervises OTRC’s front desk and lobbies. She and her staff wear many hats – answering phone calls, connecting people to resources, de-escalating situations and triaging people in crisis. Now, Netta and her team also make sure clients are following physical distancing recommendations and properly wearing face coverings to reduce the spread of infection.

“I’ve grown up with a lot of our clients,” said Holden, who has been doing this work since the early 2000s. “Knowing where they came from, I love to see how far they’ve come.”

COVID-19 has been a true test for OTRC’s coordinated care model – which has proven effective for those we serve, despite the challenges.

“This experience has made it clear that our programs are adaptable,” said Swain. “Our staff are creative, and our clients are resilient.It's been tough, but we’re getting through it together.”



Lighting the Way for Healthier Communities: A Whole Person Approach to Recovery

Aug 11, 2020

This year, National Health Center Week is shining a light on the impact of the COVID-19 on our health centers and our communities. Coronavirus has been particularly challenging for people struggling with substance use disorder and people in recovery. For our medical providers and recovery staff, creativity and innovation are more important than ever as we work to meet the needs of our clients and support their recovery.

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Oregon ranks nearly last in the country in access to addiction treatment. Waitlists for treatment can be months long, and treatment is virtually inaccessible in some rural counties. This is one reason why one to two Oregonians die of drug overdoses every day, sometimes while waiting to get treatment.

Substance use disorder is also a key driver of homelessness. At Central City Concern, our goal is to meet people where they are with treatment options that meet their needs. Our comprehensive approach provides critical primary care, housing and employment assistance to help people stay on the path to recovery.

 

Oregon ranks nearly last in the country in access to addiction treatment . . . One to two Oregonians die of drug overdoses every day, sometimes while waiting to get treatment.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it a surge in substance use, acute withdrawal, relapse and overdose, as well as challenges for those currently in recovery. For CCC’s medical providers and recovery staff, creativity is more important than ever in meeting the needs of our clients and supporting their recovery.

Lauren Land is CCC’s Associate Medical Director of Primary Care at Old Town Clinic. She's also one of the pioneers of CCC’s Medically Managed Medication Supported Recovery Program, also known as M3. M3 is an office-based opioid treatment program helping those with an opioid use disorder through the use of prescribed buprenorphine (or Suboxone), used to help reduce harm from opioid addiction.

Office-based treatment is one tool in CCC’s toolbox of available substance use disorder programs. It's often a low-barrier window of opportunity for clients to receive recovery support while engaging with other services within CCC.

As a primary care provider, Land has the unique ability to engage across the spectrum of CCC recovery options, allowing her to support the whole person and address their physical, mental and social determinants of health (e.g. housing related issues, access to food, physical environment, etc.). CCC offers one of the most comprehensive arrays of recovery services in the region, including behavioral interventions and supports, medication management, supportive housing, acupuncture, harm reduction, mental health and culturally specific supports. These range from our Hooper Detoxification and Stabilization Center, CCC Recovery Center, and the Recuperative Care Program, to the Old Town Recovery Center, Imani and Letty Owings Center – to name a few.

Our goal is to meet patients wherever they are on their recovery journey.

“I’m so grateful to be able to offer these services to my patients,” said Land. “What makes CCC stand out is the fact that patients can engage with primary care, behavioral health and access our entire spectrum of services. We take a whole person approach, looking at all of the factors affecting a person’s physical and mental health.”

 

Our goal is to meet patients wherever they are on their recovery journey.

 

One of the cornerstones of recovery is human connection. For those in recovery, isolation is one of the biggest challenges of COVID-19 and can increase the urge to use. While in-person groups and one-on-one mentor sessions have been reduced, CCC has responded by providing tele-connections for clients – meetings with recovery mentors and support groups by phone and video. At the same time, CCC continues to offer a full array of onsite services, including medical visits and physically distanced recovery groups. We have a “no-barriers exist” philosophy.

CCC’s recovery staff often say that isolation is the opposite of recovery. That’s why CCC has made a concerted effort to ensure clients maintain connections with their support systems.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how many people in our communities have been living without proper care and stability. At CCC, we’ve stepped up quickly with a rapid response. We want Portlanders to know that help is available, and we're as steadfast as ever in our commitment to supporting people transitioning away from addiction struggles and homelessness.

 



Housing

Central City Concern helps people find the stability of home, as well as a new community to support their goals. Our Housing Choice model allows people to choose the kind of housing based on their personal needs. Learn more »

Health and Recovery

Access to integrated primary and behavioral health care is key to successful recovery. CCC offers exceptional, compassionate care to meet patients' primary care, mental health care and substance use disorder treatment needs. Learn more »

Employment

The journey from being homeless to finding a living wage job can be arduous, especially without a guide. CCC's employment programs provide vital supports to those desiring to make progress toward self-sufficiency. Learn more »