PENDLETON - Mental health clients in Umatilla County should have no lapses in service if a change in providers takes place next month.

Kevin Campbell, chief executive officer of Greater Oregon Behavioral Health Inc., hopes services will be seamless. GOBHI is a quasi-public health management organization based in The Dalles that provides funding for state clients in the county.

"We hope to have a contract in place with a new provider by Oct. 1," Campbell said, adding that GOBHI's goal is to have one of Oregon's best mental health delivery systems in Umatilla County within three years.

GOBHI provides Umatilla County with about $2 million per year, or $167,000 per month, in Medicare and Medicaid funds to provide mental health services to state clients, Campbell said. The county Mental Health Department serves about 170 children and 135 adults, or more than 300 state clients.

GOBHI has not yet received any proposals for providing mental health services in the county, but Campbell said he doesn't expect any until just before Wednesday's deadline. GOBHI's executive committee will meet Thursday to review the proposals.

"As soon as we close the - process we can begin negotiating with the entity that ultimately filters out from the selection process," Campbell said. "The contractor that we choose needs to be satisfactory to GOBHI and the state. We would hope that they would be satisfactory to the county as well."

He said GOBHI would like to have the selection committee include equal numbers from all three agencies.

Providers in neighboring counties have been notified and will be available if any lapses in service seem imminent, according to Campbell. The Center for Human Development in Union County and Mountain Valley Mental Health Programs Inc. in Baker County, both private, nonprofit corporations, provide mental health services.

"We intend to put enough contracts in place that if there were a disruption in services, there will be 24-hour contacts - to prevent a crisis from coming about," Campbell said. "If need be, we will contract with neighboring counties to provide services. We would intend to contract with other providers to pitch in and provide abundant services. We're going to stick with it until the transition is done. We're not going to let the thing fail."

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