Multnomah Co. behavioral health center reopens after alleged staff misconduct

Published: Apr. 17, 2023 at 4:21 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Multnomah County’s Behavioral Health Resource Center reopened its doors Monday after abruptly closing them late last month.

The closure came just months after opening in December.

Monday, officials revealed the reasons behind the closure saying they’re upgrading the building and giving staff some necessary training. However, they’re also replacing on-site security personnel who are being investigated for inappropriate relationships with other contracted employees on-site.

However, those aren’t the only allegations, as at a place that’s supposed to be helping people get clean, officials revealed employees are also being investigated for using powder-like drugs on the premises.

After closing their doors quickly, some clients couldn’t help but wonder why, as the City of Portland wasn’t even notified of the closure.

“I think we had a miscommunication with the City of Portland Tom Bialozor, with Multnomah County BHD, said. “Someone thought someone else was communicating it, and someone caught wind of that, but that kind of didn’t happen.”

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Officials say on March 29 they received word of the allegations which prompted them to close their doors and conduct an investigation that is still ongoing, and to their knowledge, did not involve any clients.

“The allegations were between what was considered inappropriate adult consenting relationships,” Janie Gullickson with MHAAO, said. “Not with clients, but across the workforce.”

The allegations forced the center to wipe their entire security team, and replace them, due to how many of them were involved.

Meanwhile, for Quentin Darby, who was unsure of why they closed, he’s just happy the doors are open once again.

“I have been using the day center and it has been a huge help,” he said.

During the closure, the center says they’ve restructured a bit. They’re now seeing 25 people at a time in several hour-long spans. In the past, officials say they’d take in as many as 80 at once. The center says that caused problems for their mission to help people get the resources they need.

It’s a place to hang out, get warm,” Darby said. “Stuff like that, bathrooms and showers and all the works.”

Since opening in December, the resource center says they’ve seen more than 15,000 visitors, or more than 150 people per day, who the center hopes to help get into permanent housing. That’s somewhere Darby would like to be to have access to everyday necessities that are lacking on the streets.

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“You’d be surprised how many places around here don’t have a microwave to use, or a restroom. A lot of the restrooms are shut down to the public. It’s a big city, so there’s a lot of bad people around. If it wasn’t for places like this, I’m not sure what a lot of us would do. I basically meet new people every day. It’s a safe feeling you know.”

The facility says they’ve responded to 252 incidents involving clients since opening their doors, 25 of which resulted in 911 calls, and 62 where participants were asked to leave. However, during the closure, officials say staff has received additional training to properly handle visitors who violate their code of care.

“Thank god for places like this,” Darby said, “because like I said, they’re a huge help. We appreciate every one of these staff members who are here to help us.”

The center is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, and the county says they intend to expand services later this spring, bringing more beds for people to stay the night and around 20 others to help people transition to permanent housing.