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GOBHI Providers Behavioral Health Newsletter September 2022

Update From The CEO

Picture of Karen Wheeler, GOBHI CEO

Greetings, providers.

I wish you a happy fall as we officially enter the season! I’m looking forward to time outdoors, enjoying the crisp air and the colorful leaves.

September was a busy time for the behavioral health community, with new state investments in SUD services through M110 being finalized by OHA, awareness public education events throughout the region, and the EOCCO Clinician and Staff Summit – which was a great success, held on Sept. 21-23.

Next month won’t be a sleepy one for local events, either. Save the date for the Recovery Walk in Pendleton on Oct. 15!

This month’s edition includes an article from Community Counseling Solutions regarding suicide prevention efforts, a reminder about the Breaking the Stigma event in Pendleton this Friday, Sept. 30, grant and program notices, and an update from the Consumer Caucus.

Thank you for your steady, hard work serving Eastern Oregon’s vulnerable and priority populations. I look forward to addressing the needs of our community members alongside you, now and in the months ahead.


Karen Wheeler, MA CEO, GOBHI / Tribal Liaison, EOCCO


Suicide Prevention Update - CCS

Suicide prevention efforts via Zero Suicide at Community Counseling Solutions

By Thad Labhart,

CCS Clinical Director

Several years ago, an unfortunate number of deaths by suicide within the counties we serve led us to research comprehensive, research-based ways of addressing suicide prevention. It was that research which led us to Zero Suicide. Zero Suicide is grounded in the belief that suicide deaths for those under the care of our behavioral health system are preventable. It presents an aspirational challenge and practical framework for system-wide transformation toward safer suicide care. While lofty in name, it's also a stark reminder that suicide prevention work never ends.

The Zero Suicide framework consists of seven essential elements:

Lead - Given the topic, we knew it was vital to invest heavily in our commitment to the program. Implicitly this included Board and leadership buy-in. We also invested financial resources to bring out Zero Suicide consultants to help us assess our baseline and develop a strategic plan for implementation. We formed a Zero Suicide leadership committee representative of our staff, community and survivors. We introduced enhanced policy requiring suicide prevention screening and staff training. We sent a number of staff to become trained trainers in Question Persuade Refer (QPR) as well as Assessing and Managing Suicide Risk (AMSR). We applied for and received the Oregon suicide prevention grant. We hired a Zero Suicide coordinator.

Zero Suicide is a standing agenda item for all internal program meetings, administrative meetings and even our advisory board meetings. We continue to participate in consultation with Zero Suicide Institute staff, Portland State staff and other suicide prevention experts from around the country. We will send staff to the State suicide prevention conference later this Fall where we will also be engaging in a retreat with Zero Suicide staff and consultants on continuing to refine our implementation plan.

Train - Our internal policy now requires all staff, not just clinical, to be trained in QPR and Counseling on Access to Lethal Means (CALM). Additionally, our clinical staff are required to train on the Columbia suicide screening tool, safety planning and AMSR. Clinicians are trained in Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality (CAMS). We've brought in a training consultant to teach us about appropriate language around this topic. Our QPR staff have trained many community members and agency partners in QPR as well.

Identify - We now require all clients, every individual visit, to be screened for suicide potential using the Columbia screening tool. We've also incorporated parts of the SAFE-T protocol in our screening inclusive of risk/protective factors, risk status/state as well as lethal means counseling and safety planning. In turn, all clients are assigned a low/medium/high risk for suicide potential.

Engage - Any client with a current medium or high-risk rating are monitored via Pathways which is a rotating group of both clinical and front office staff who review the list twice weekly to ensure regular outreach, engagement and follow up for Pathways clients. All Pathways clients are required to have lethal means counseling and safety plan development as well. We've embedded domains in our health record to both capture and monitor adherence to these expectations.

Treat - We currently encourage staff to utilize the CAMS treatment model in working with someone with elevated suicide risk. In our clinical staff trainings, we regularly pose situational vignettes to bolster discussion and confidence in treating someone with risk.

Transition - While our Pathways endeavor helps monitor those with risk, there are times when engagement is difficult. We've enhanced our policies to require significant outreach prior to any discharge, including a requirement for attempted face to face outreach/contact prior to discharge for those on the Pathways list. We continue to look at ways to better engage family members of at-risk clients. We are also looking at ways to better monitor those who have recently discharged from higher levels of care.

We led the charge in developing the youth suicide response protocols in the counties we serve. We have trained many staff in crisis debriefing and have arranged for a NOVA crisis response team training. We are participating in ongoing postvention trainings as well.

Improve - We've introduced root cause analysis review of all deaths and attempts. Lessons learned are reviewed with staff and policy/practice adjusted accordingly. We monitor a number of Zero Suicide metrics such as screening compliance, safety planning, lethal means counseling, no-show outreach/engagement and deaths. We continue to access consultants and refine quality improvement processes.

Zero Suicide has been a boon for how we approach suicide prevention. We've completed three implementation assessments since 2019, including comprehensive employee surveys of these domains and associated elements. Across all domains within our programs, we've seen an average increase of 132% in our Zero Suicide Assessment scores. Suicide rates are down as well.

Of course, this work doesn't come without challenges. And we are happy to share those learned lessons with any of you who are interested. We continue to identify areas for improvement and opportunities to fill gaps. It's work that never ends.

If you’d like learn more about Zero Suicide, please visit their website at

What are your success stories we can all learn from? What's your commitment to suicide prevention? We are all in this together.


Breaking the Stigma event

GOBHI/EOCCO are teaming up with local partners to host a community event for adolescents experiencing substance use/abuse. Breaking the Stigma will offer a variety of resources and support for families and youth in Eastern Oregon to help them feel seen, supported, and represented.

  • When: Friday September 30, 4pm – 8pm

  • Where: Roy Raley Park, 1205 SW Court Ave, Pendleton, OR

  • What: This event will feature free food vouchers, food trucks, music, family activities, and a panel discussion and Q&A with community members with lived substance use/abuse experience.

Find more information on the event Facebook page: Breaking the Stigma - Family event | Facebook


Consumer Caucus update

*The following is an update from the GOBHI Consumer Caucus’ meeting on August 31st, with happenings and positive news shared during its roundtable discussions. If you have any questions about the caucus, please reach out to Becky Miller,

The Caucus’ guest speaker was Raeana Mikel, GOBHI Health Equity and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Specialist, who described her role at GOBHI and her personal connection to the Eastern Oregon region.

A member shared that in Pendleton, the peer center moved into a new building on 8/31.

‘The CCS Hope Peer Center is open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 325 SE Beyers, Pendleton Oregon 97801. Groups start at 1 p.m. daily. We have many different groups throughout the day which includes: arts and crafts, DDA, Real Me, Body Positive to name a few. Anyone who is a CCS client is welcome to join us! We make great friends and peer support here!’

Amy Jo and Joshua Young have received over $20,000 in grants to support their new non-profit venture “L-aPs.”

‘They provide a bridge and lapse support when people are coming out of, going into, in-between, and deciding to try other services for their addiction, life, and/or behavioral health recovery, including offering Free Mobile Thrift/Community Fridge Pop-ups in Umatilla and Morrow counties. They are partnering with an online peer support program, Hey Peers, to offer virtual peer support 1-on-1 and in peer groups.’

Cynthia Hanna/Peer Support Recovery Specialist with Lifeways, Inc. shared that Lifeways has expanded and continues to grow its peer support:

‘Lifeways added two new full-time PSS's in April, another in June who is also a certified recovery mentor, and have had 3 people accept employment proposals this month - including one full-time and one part-time PSS. From two part-time PSS, we are now up to six full-time and one part-time. We've also added two case managers. Lots of exciting growth, and we'll still have a wait list for services so I'm sure we'll continue to grow!’

Kristina Gueli in Baker County announced that she and Albert Rowley (Consumer Caucus members) are trying to work on a project to coordinate with OHA to provide others in Oregon access to virtual reality technology to help people with behavioral health issues.

‘For their project, they envision using VR to create virtual drop-in centers for Oregonians to receive peer delivered services and support. She relayed that personally, VR helped reduce anxiety and depression, and improve focus. For people with anxiety in public spaces, it also provides a venue to “go out" and interact with friends.’


SUD integration grants

As part of HB 2086, OHA, Health Systems Division is offering start-up funding grants for Integrated Co-Occurring Disorders Treatment & Support Services to qualified providers. Due to the nature of these grants, OHA will NOT be required to conduct a formal RFP process.

You can find updates and resources concerning the Oregon SUD 1115 Demonstration Waiver at OHA’s new webpage. For a list of codes, please see the attachment under “Resources.”


OHA will begin receiving applications on October 1st, 2022, with an initial end date for receiving applications of October 31st, 2022.

OHA will hold multiple, ninety-minute long ICOD Start-Up Grant Workshops via Zoom in late September and early October. The purpose of the workshops will be to provide space for Q&A regarding grant requirements and application processes. Workshop schedule is below. For questions, please email David Corse:

ICOD Start-Up Grant Workshop Schedule (pre-registration required).


Program reminder - 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 flyer or contact a member of our Foster Care Team.


Questions? Topics?

Invitation: County Highlights

This newsletter is published on the last Monday of each month.

One of our ongoing sections is a “spotlight” of each county. Each month, we invite updates from the 12 counties in our service area. We invite content from you for this section: 3-4 sentences (or ~150-300 words) about news in your county, such as staff, building, and success story content. Please contact Patrick Mulvihill to sign up for one of the 12 months. Aside from sign-ups, we will reach out to you to help gather the content. Thank you for your support.

Submission due dates for comments and submitted write-ups: the second Friday of each month, at 4 p.m. Next due date is October 14.

Helpful Links:



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