Long and rich, our history dates back to the 1970s when Oregon determined that its counties would be the “local mental health authority.” This meant that each county had the authority to provide its own mental health, addictions, and developmental disability services, or contract these services out. Morrow County chose to operate its own program, and the agency was known as Morrow County Mental Health. In 1983 it agreed to provide these services for Gilliam and Wheeler counties. In 1993 Gilliam County decided to contract with a different provider.
In 1995 we entered into a unique arrangement with Wheeler County, the Wheeler County Commission on Children and Families, and the Wheeler County Juvenile Department to create a school-based counselor program. This program assigned a clinician to the schools in Wheeler County to provide mental health and addictions counseling at no cost to the children, with no formal intake packet required. This ensured such services were more broadly and readily available to the children in school. This program, called the Wheeler County School Based Counseling Project, was among the first to place community mental health program clinicians in an Oregon school. It has demonstrated positive results in juvenile crime reduction, improved academics, and improved cognitive skills, and now serves over 300 children.
In 1998 the agency changed its name to Morrow County Behavioral Health to avoid the stigma associated with the term “mental health.”
In 2005, working with Columbia Care, we helped establish Columbia River Ranch, a residential treatment facility located in Boardman. This was the first residential treatment facility for those with severe and persistent mental illness in eastern Oregon
In 2007, with the support of the Morrow County Court, we opened our doors as a private, not for profit entity. This enabled us to better serve Morrow and Wheeler counties and provide the citizens with a broader array of quality behavioral health care services.
In 2007 we also started the David Romprey Oregon Warmline. This service provides an effective but lower cost alternative to crisis call-in services. Peer operated, the Warmline provides people the opportunity to connect with other individuals (peers) who have had similar shared life experiences. The Warmline initially operated 5 hours a week and received 2-3 calls per week. Today it operates more than 100 hours/week and logs close to 15,000 calls per year.
In 2008 we changed our name to Community Counseling Solutions (CCS). We also assumed responsibility to provide mental health, addictions, and disability services for Gilliam and Grant counties, thus becoming the behavioral health care service provider for four eastern Oregon counties.
In 2010 CCS opened a secure residential treatment facility in south Morrow County called Lakeview Heights. Intended to helped address the shortage of more advanced psychiatric care in eastern Oregon, this facility provides services to eligible individuals with severe and persistent mental illness who are currently in a state hospital level of care but no longer considered a danger to themselves or others. Lakeview Heights has eight state-funded beds, two crisis beds, and prioritizes the needs of residents from Morrow, Wheeler, Gilliam, and Grant counties.
In 2012 CCS opened Juniper Ridge Acute Care Center to address the significant shortage of adult inpatient beds statewide that has a disproportionate impact on the needs of eastern Oregon residents. Located in John Day, Oregon, this facility provides acute inpatient services 24/7 with a full complement of psychiatric, nursing and clinical staff that serves adults from around the state.
CCS currently operates in four counties and employees approximately 150 individuals. Its behavioral health care rates among the best in the state. Per capita, we have the lowest rate of civil commitments in Oregon, while our school based counseling program in Wheeler County has the highest penetration rate for kids. We have one of the lowest rates for hospitalizations for adults and children, and we demonstrate some of the best outcomes for continuity of care. We have very few out-of-home placements for our youth. We have created mid-level service alternatives for adults and youth so that people can receive the care they need close to the communities in which they live.
Community Counseling Solutions has a history of providing innovative, quality behavioral health care for the residents of eastern Oregon, and will continue to do so. Indeed, we are writing the next chapter in our history, the brightest yet.