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Patient dies at Portland mental health facility

July 31, 2019

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Another patient has died at Portland’s main emergency mental health center, officials said.

At least two other patients have died since the Unity Center for Behavior Health opened in 2017 as the region’s solution to consolidating treatment for people experiencing a mental health crisis.

Multnomah County officials confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that Unity, which is run by Legacy Health, notified county investigators Tuesday of the most recent death. Hospitals are required to submit complaints of abuse or neglect to Multnomah County, which is designated by the state to look into the claims.

The patient appears to have died Monday. A county spokeswoman said she couldn’t provide details.

A Legacy Health spokesman confirmed the death Wednesday and said “no additional steps need to be taken connected to this patient, given the specific medical cause of death.” He didn’t provide additional details.

The death comes a little more than six months after Unity cleared state and federal investigations and about a year after staff failed to stop a patient from dying by suicide.

In that case, investigators concluded Unity staff hadn’t properly assessed the risk that the patient would kill herself and therefore left her unsupervised with materials that she used to hang herself.

Before that, a patient died from what investigators said were preventable causes by delaying medical treatment.

The center, which was created to be a more humane way to treat some of the area’s most profoundly ill mental health patients, had such loose training and lack of staff that patients were sexually assaulted, escaped and hurt each other and themselves, the state and federal investigators found.

The Oregon Health Authority and federal regulator U.S. Centers for Medicaid and Medicare said in November the center’s leadership had resolved its issues. Unity stopped taking new patients for several periods during the nine-month investigation as staff made adjustments, including increasing the number of nurses on duty, more thorough training and tweaks to the physical space.

Unity is funded by four hospital systems including Legacy, Oregon Health & Science University, Adventist Health and Kaiser Permanente. All closed their individual mental health centers to create Unity in Northeast Portland.

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Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com

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