The new executive director at Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare (CBH) is someone you might recognize in the community: Sumuer Watkins. She grew up in Clatsop County and graduated from Warrenton High School. Hired more than 16 years ago, she started as the receptionist and worked her way up in the agency, with a promotion to executive director in December 2012.
In her new job, Watkins is working with health care professionals throughout Clatsop County to implement health care reform that includes more coordination of services for those in need of mental health or addictions care.
"This is an exciting time to be in health care," states Watkins. "We are just starting the process, but we will be able to help people make positive changes in their lives by integrating behavioral health care with primary medical care. Instead of waiting for a crisis to happen, we get a chance to think proactively about what we can do to change this person's life for the better."
That is a vision shared by Governor Kitzhaber and health care providers throughout Oregon as Coordinated Care Organizations (CCOs) are established to improve health care outcomes while reducing overall costs for residents on the Oregon Health Plan. In Clatsop County, the Columbia Pacific CCO has been working to do both for the past year.
"The CCO gives us a higher level of accountability to work together to change the culture of health care," Watkins continues. "For example, in our Astoria location, we work directly with the providers across the hall at Coastal Family Health Center to help with a wide range of patient issues, including developmental disabilities, mental health concerns and addictions, as well as provide education and support for psychological illnesses and symptoms."
CBH works with health care providers throughout Clatsop County, including hospitals, clinics, schools, corrections and the Oregon Department of Human Services. With three locations in the county, located in Astoria, Warrenton and Seaside, CBH is adding more programs and services to keep up with the need for behavioral health care. In 2013, CBH celebrates 50 years of serving residents in Clatsop County.