GOBHI Board takes action to ensure smooth transition of services in Umatilla County

UMATILLA COUNTY — The Board of Directors for Greater Oregon Behavioral Health, Inc. (GOBHI) has taken action to support the continuity of behavioral health services for Oregon Health Plan Members in Umatilla County who are Members of the Eastern Oregon Coordinated Care Organization (EOCCO).

GOBHI serves as an administrative services organization on behalf of the EOCCO. GOBHI is responsible for administering the behavioral health benefit, non-emergent medical transportation and for facilitating community conversations to improve the healthcare system in Eastern Oregon for EOCCO Members. We are committed to ensuring the voices of people who access healthcare services are represented. GOBHI is also one of the owners of EOCCO, the entity designated by the state to manage healthcare benefits for Oregon Health Plan members in 12 rural and frontier counties. There are approximately 23,000 EOCCO members in Umatilla County.

The change in local service providers was initiated by the Umatilla County Board of Commissioners’ decision in spring 2021 to conduct a competitive process to select a single provider to serve as the Community Mental Health Program and the Substance Use Disorder treatment provider for residents of Umatilla County. The county selected Community Counseling Solutions (CCS) for this role.

The GOBHI board voted on Aug. 25 to terminate GOBHI’s Comprehensive Behavioral Health Provider agreement with Lifeways, Inc. in Umatilla County effective Nov. 30, 2021. The board also moved to adopt a new agreement with CCS fulfilling this role effective Dec. 1, 2021. This timeline coincides with the County’s timeline for transitioning providers.

In each Oregon county, Community Mental Health Programs offer an array of behavioral health and support services, as well as crisis response and mobile crisis services. CCS is the CMHP serving Gilliam, Grant, Morrow, and Wheeler counties.

The GOBHI board’s actions represent a step forward in the formal process of service transitioning from Lifeways to CCS.

“We look forward to continuing our work with partners in Umatilla County to make this as smooth a transition as possible,” said Karen Wheeler, GOBHI CEO. “We’re encouraged by conversations with CCS leadership about their commitment to meet the behavioral health needs in this community. We are aligned in our vision to improve service delivery in this county, particularly in the area of crisis response for vulnerable residents.”

CCS will begin operating the Umatilla County Substance Use Disorder services effective Sept. 1, 2021, and the Community Mental Health Provider services effective Dec. 1, 2021.

“CCS is honored to have the opportunity to contract with GOBHI for the provision of OHP services in Umatilla County,” said Kimberly Lindsay, CCS Executive Director. “We are eager to learn more about what has worked and not worked, and are completely committed to providing high quality behavioral health services to those we serve.”

Representatives from CCS, Lifeways, and GOBHI are in regular communication regarding the transition of providers. Through recent discussions with Lifeways leadership, GOBHI understands there is a significant effort between Lifeways and CCS to transition staff from one entity to the other to ensure continuity of operations and clinical care for Umatilla County residents, including EOCCO members.

“These partnerships are critical. We must not lose sight of our common goal: making sure Umatilla County residents have the quality services they need to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. We look forward to serving the community in the future,” Wheeler said.



GOBHI was founded in 1994; it is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit corporation that is charged with administering the behavioral health Medicaid benefit, non-emergent medical transportation and community engagement in 12 rural and frontier counties in Oregon. GOBHI is co-owner of Eastern Oregon Coordinated Care Organization, along with Moda health, and also provides various direct services statewide.

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Update: This RFP solicitation is closed, in keeping with the Feb. 9, 2022 submission due date. Future updates about the contract award and the initiative process will be posted on gobhi.org. Effective