Kimberly Lindsay

Community Counseling Solutions CEO Kimberly Lindsay discusses the shift in care at Juniper Ridge Acute Care Center Oct. 14 during a session of Grant County Court.

Juniper Ridge Acute Care Center, an inpatient psychiatric facility in John Day, is shutting down and laying off four nurses in the face of financial losses with plans to shift to a secure residential treatment facility.

Community Counseling Solutions CEO Kimberly Lindsay said the facility would stop admitting patients Oct. 26 and discharge the remaining patients by Nov. 6.

Next year, she said Juniper Ridge would begin taking patients who have been downgraded from acute psychiatric care from the Oregon State Hospital in Junction City.

Lindsay said there has been pressure put on the state hospital to discharge acute psychiatric patients to secure residential facilities.

She said the increase in the number of acute care beds in the state will hinder Juniper Ridge’s ability to stay financially solvent.

Lindsay said the patients, deemed stable and no longer a danger to themselves or others, will be at Juniper Ridge for six months.

Lindsay said the funding to update the facility to a secure residential treatment facility would be through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which must be spent by the end of the year.

She said construction will begin Nov. 9 to expand the facility from 11 beds to 13. The project is expected to be completed in roughly three months.

Lindsay said there are currently between seven and eight patients at the facility, which, on average, has been running at 80-85% capacity.

She said she wants the public to know, while psychiatric patients are usually not allowed to be out in public, secure residential treatment patients are with a staff escort. Lindsay said one staff member could supervise up to five residential patients under the state’s regulations. However, she said, a patient could be required to be with one staff member in public.

The residential patients are stepping down to a lower level of care, intending to enter back into society, she said.

She told the court she did not want to give the wrong impression. At Lakeview Heights, she said, there have been patients who have “decompensated.”

“In a secure facility, the doors are still locked,” Lindsay said. “We’re providing that added layer of structure.”

In a psychiatric facility, she said they focus on getting someone stable and getting the patient on medication with stays between 14 to 16 days.

Under the new model, there will be a therapeutic component, including group and individual counseling.

“Some of what we are doing with them in the community is helping them be successful as they’re stepping down to a lower level of care, which 99% of them are going to do,” Lindsay said.

She said she could help someone get a food handler’s license, work with patients, put together a budget or cultivate healthy eating habits.

According to the county’s contract with CCS, Lindsay said they could open the facility without consulting with the public or county officials.

“It is CCS’ value to be thoughtful of the community’s interest,” Lindsay said. “Technically, we could open, but that’s not who we are or what we are about.”

Under the contract, she said, CCS provides the public health department functions, outpatient mental health, addiction services for people without health insurance and developmental disability services for the county.

She said, when CCS built Juniper Ridge in 2011, they wanted community input, and if the people had not desired the facility, they would have moved on.

Lindsay said she does not know what to anticipate from the community. She said, before opening Juniper Ridge, people were mostly behind having the facility in John Day.

However, she said, the differences in the populations, where the secure residential patients can be in the community with escorts, might not sit well with some people.

If Juniper Ridge does not transition to a secure residential facility, Lindsay said, it will close completely.

Lindsay encouraged community members to offer their thoughts at surveymonkey.com/r/XW697HV. Comments can also be emailed to juniperridge@ccsemail.org or mailed to Kimberly Lindsay, P.O. Box 469, Heppner, OR 97836.

Reporter

Steven Mitchell is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. Contact him at steven@bmeagle.com or 541-575-0710.

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