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GOBHI Providers Behavioral Health Newsletter January 2024

Update From The CEO


I look forward to my monthly updates with you all. Thank you for the time you take to review this provider newsletter and comments from me. I will start this with a more personal sharing than the typical updates. After nearly 40 years in the behavioral health workforce, I will be retiring in June of this year. Of course, there are waves of thoughts and emotions as I approach this life milestone. In terms of GOBHI’s leadership, I am very involved in helping with the transition. The CEO position has been posted and closed on Tuesday the 23rd. Our Board of Directors is working with our Chief Human Resources Officer, Julie Leutschaft, to review applicants and schedule interviews. Our goal is to have someone selected and involved in planning for a smooth and supportive transition. GOBHI also has a highly-skilled officers and executive team to support this and I am as committed to my last few months at GOBHI as I was when I started. 

We recently had a wonderful discussion at our managers meeting about legacy. This inspired me to think about decades of my work and time with my family. For me, a huge part of my legacy involves my five grandchildren and I am looking forward to using more of my time to spend with them to influence their development and connection in positive ways in the coming years. My grandma “Noni” influenced me tremendously and she did this through unconditional love and devoting her time to spend with me. She taught me how to knit, crochet, plant a garden, harvest, tend roses, can vegetables, and cook food with love!     

I also think about the changes in the system of care over the decades. In some ways there has been such meaningful reform. In others, we are coming full circle on approaches and policies from when I began. When I started in this field, we were just at the beginning of integrating care for people with alcohol use and other substance use disorders after having separate systems for alcohol and drugs. Now, we can hardly imagine that those were separate before. 

On January 22nd, I attended a research symposium on Oregon’s Ballot Measure 110. Researchers from RTI International presented research findings at the day-long event co-sponsored by Comagine Health. RTI is an independent nonprofit research institute dedicated to improving the human condition. Researchers with MDs, PhDs in Epidemiology, Sociology and more have been involved in this review since its inception. Here is their symposium summary:

“In November 2020, nearly 60% of Oregon voters approved Ballot Measure 110 (M110), also known as the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act. With M110’s passage, Oregon became the first U.S. state to decriminalize non-commercial possession of drugs that are illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act. The goal was to adopt a health-centered approach to drug use by removing criminal penalties for personal drug possession and expanding access to screening, health assessment, treatment, and recovery services for substance use disorders. This symposium convenes researchers to present what the scientific data show about M110's successes, challenges, and outcomes.” 

In addition to other findings, they compared rates of substance use related mortality in Oregon to other states that do not have a “M110” type of approach and concluded that M110 is not correlated with higher mortality. Those are related to the infiltration of Fentanyl into the non-regulated drug supply. Some may make the leap that M110 increased fentanyl use which ties to higher mortality. However, data on the comparison states did not support that correlation. States without a M110 approach experienced similar increases in fentanyl. I want to highlight, these findings are based on strong research and data. And, these data should not be carried over to say that there is - no harm - associated with M110. People have a range of perceptions about this. For example, the increase in open-air substance abuse has negative ramifications which communities are struggling to manage. But, it is not the root cause of fentanyl related deaths.

Please see the symposium fact sheet which lists key takeaways.


GOBHI’s New Chief Behavioral Health Officer (CBHO)

Melissa Thompson

I’m honored to introduce GOBHI’s new Chief Behavioral Health Officer, Melissa Thompson. This is a new position at GOBHI and represents the importance of building an effective leadership team. Melissa has extensive experience in many of our lines of business, including: 

  • Manager of Behavioral Health - Population Health Team at PacificSource

  • Team lead for care management clinicians

  • Involved in a part-time private practice to stay connected to individuals’ needs

  • Provided statewide advanced Crisis De-Escalation with the Department of Public Safety and Standards Training

  • Supervised clinicians and Peer Support Specialists on a crisis team

  • Permanency caseworker with child welfare

  • Foster care and adoption counselor

  • And more

We are fortunate to welcome Melissa to GOBHI. 


Karen Wheeler, MA

CEO, GOBHI / Behavioral Health Director, EOCCO


2024 Lunch and Learn Training Opportunities

In an effort to improve access to GOBHI’s training for network providers and offer Continuing Education Units (CEU’s), we are excited to announce the 2024 Lunch and Learn Series. On the 3rd Thursday of each month from 12-1 PM PT we will be offering 1 hour of CEUs for a variety of topics, presented by GOBHI subject matter experts. We are hoping you will join us! We understand this time is usually lunch for folks, so feel free to join camera on or off and both get some nourishment, earn a CEU, and engage with peers around topics that we think are pertinent to the work you all are doing! 

The following table provides training topics and links to registration.

January 18th

Medical Necessity Documentation

July 18th

Civil Commitment 101

February 15th

Fraud, Waste, Abuse

August 15th

Accessing Acute Care Tips and Tricks

March 21st

Audit Prep and Common Findings

September 19th

Peer Supervision

April 18th

Service Documentation

May 16th

TIC for Professionals

November 14th

Basics of Guardianship

June 20th

Clinical Boundaries

December 19th

Care Coordination OAR Updates

We look forward to Lunching and Learning with you all in 2024!


Transportation Services Social Media Toolkit Update

GOBHI’s non-emergent medical transportation (NEMT) social media toolkit is now available. We encourage our partners to share this messaging on your own social media pages and support GOBHI in promoting free rides for members. 

Transportation can be a considerable barrier to getting children and families engaged in services. In response, GOBHI and EOCCO have been working to further promote NEMT services in the region through a number of different initiatives. This work is part of the system-level social emotional health incentive metric. 

Additional information surrounding how to connect members to NEMT services, as well as the social media toolkit, can be found on our NEMT webpage.


Mobile Response and Stabilization Services

Starting in 2024, CCO’s will now be administering a new benefit to our members: Mobile Response and Stabilization Services (MRSS). MRSS is a rapid response, home- and community-based crisis intervention model customized to meet the developmental needs of children, youth, young adults, and their families (youth and families). The inclusion of MRSS within a comprehensive system of care (SOC) and crisis continuum is a core component of a good and modern children’s behavioral health system. MRSS is embedded within a full spectrum of effective services and supports for youth with or at risk for behavioral health and emotional challenges.

GOBHI has developed a planning group to assess a variety of factors within this benefit. The group is looking at compliance needs, system development, implementation approaches, technical assistance, and more. We are in the early stages of this planning and will engage providers to help us be successful at maximizing this benefit while understanding the unique needs in rural Oregon.

As EOCCO works to implement this benefit, we will continue to share resources with providers on how these services are being delivered in Eastern Oregon as they become available. To learn more about the MRSS benefit, visit OHA's Mobile Response and Stabilization Services webpage.


Behavioral Health Qualified Directed Payments Update

The 2024 Behavioral Health Directed payment attestation form from the Oregon Health Authority is now available. You can locate it in the provider section on the GOBHI website on the Behavioral Health Qualified Directed Payments page. Kindly submit the completed form to by the end of February. If you have any inquiries about the form, please contact


Eastern Oregon Workforce Development Consortium (WFDC) Calendar

As part of GOBHI’s continued work to address the behavioral health workforce shortage, we have formed a collaboration of community partners to identify training, educational, employment, grant, and scholarship opportunities for behavioral health professionals in Eastern Oregon. 

This group will be meeting monthly throughout the year. Please see the WFDC calendar for a full list of meetings and related events coming up in 2024.

Email Julie Leutschaft, GOBHI’s Chief Human Resources Officer, at for more information on the consortium.


Program update - Foster Care

Foster homes for youth are greatly needed in Eastern Oregon!

The GOBHI Therapeutic Foster Care program provides full-time/part-time services and care to youth in foster homes with foster parents certified and trained by GOBHI. Youth are involved with the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS), Child Welfare Division.

Please visit our website to learn more about the program and how you can help by sharing information, promoting the importance of foster care, and referring individuals who are able to support this critical effort.

Help us build a network of caring homes to support youth across our state. For more information about referral incentives and how you can support foster home recruitment efforts, see this flier or contact a member of our Foster Care Team.


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