In Short

State approves 60-bed psychiatric hospital in Wilsonville – with caveats

By: - October 16, 2021 5:17 am
Proposed psychiatric hospital in Wilsonville

The Oregon Health Authority approved a psychiatric hospital in Wilsonville with conditions (Universal Health Services graphic)

The Portland-area could get another psychiatric hospital.

The Oregon Health Authority on Friday announced its thumbs up to the proposal but it scaled it down and attached conditions. It said nearly half the beds at the new Wilsonville hospital must be reserved for mentally ill people who pose a danger to themselves and who are being held in emergency departments or jails because they have nowhere else to go.

Officials at Universal Health Systems, which has pushed for the Wilsonville hospital for five years, didn’t respond to requests Friday for comment on whether they would abide the conditions and move ahead.

The company has 60 days to request a hearing to contest the decision. Without a challenge, the decision becomes final.

The company, based in Pennsylvania, is the biggest operator of psychiatric hospitals nationwide. It owns 300 inpatient facilities, including Cedar Hills Hospital in Portland. The company initially proposed installing 100 beds that could be used for any patient, including those whose care is paid for by Medicaid.

Reserving beds for emergencies was recommended by the health authority in August. The agency added a little flexibility in its decision. It said if there weren’t enough people needing emergency transfer, those reserved beds could be used for Medicaid patients.

The agency also said the hospital needs to “ensure its ability to serve the full range of psychiatric needs of individuals with the proposed service area,” and said the company must notify the agency within 12 hours if it refuses to accept transfers or Medicaid patients and include the patient’s name, insurance carrier, the patient’s condition and the reason for the refusal.

Multnomah County Commissioner Sharon Meieran, initially a critic of the plan, couldn’t be reached for comment Friday. She told The Lund Report in August that the health authority’s conditions were a positive development, but she said the agency does not have a good track record of policing institutions.

Legacy Health, which operates the Unity Center for Behavioral Health, also has been critical of the plan. The Northeast Portland hospital has more than 100 beds, with 20% reserved for children.Legacy officials didn’t respond to a request for comment Friday.

Universal can contest the decision by requesting a hearing. It has 60 days to do so. After that the decision becomes final.


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Lynne Terry
Lynne Terry

Lynne Terry has more than 30 years of journalism experience, including a recent stint as editor of The Lund Report, a highly regarded health news site. She reported on health and food safety in her 18 years at The Oregonian, was a senior producer at Oregon Public Broadcasting and Paris correspondent for National Public Radio for nine years.