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After being closed for eight months, the adolescent treatment center opened April 18 and will provide 24 beds

PHOTO COURTESY OF RIMROCK TRAILS - Youth Support Specialists for Rimrock Trails Residential Treatment Program. From left: Sarah Stevens, Dawn Sorensen, Nathan Phillips, and Julia Robertson.

On Monday, April 18, Rimrock Trails Residential Treatment Program reopened its doors after an eight-month hiatus.

The treatment program is specifically designed for adolescents 12-17 years of age who are struggling with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders. The facility provides 24-hour care, with residents living on-site.

"We are especially grateful to our community and partnering agencies statewide, including the Oregon Health Authority, Oregon Council for Behavioral Health, and Pacific Source Community Solutions who showed unwavering support and encouragement for reopening the youth residential treatment program," commented Erica Fuller, Executive Director for Rimrock Adolescent Treatment Services. "We couldn't have done it without you."

"We made a determination within weeks of our closing last August that we would, in fact work to reopen the program as it was, serving the same population," she added.

Fuller indicated that they were forced to close because of lack of staff-which was related to the pandemic.

"What we had to determine was, 'is this going to be temporary, or are we going to try to rebuild, reopen, or do we need to think about doing something different altogether?"'

Like other industries, Fuller indicated that they experienced a critical staffing shortage that resulted in the inability to perform their work. They have staff-to-client ratios requirements according to their State of Oregon licenses.

"We simply did not have enough employees to meet those minimum ratios," Fuller said.

She noted that they are licensed for 24 beds, which is the same as it was before they closed. With other multiple programs closing, they provide approximately half of the total adolescent residential treatment beds now available in Oregon. One year ago, there were upwards of 80 beds available pre-pandemic.

"Even pre-pandemic it was too low. It nearly decimated the entire system," she said of the lack of beds when they had to close for eight months.

She indicated that the reasons for other programs closing for good, included funding and rates for the services.

"The funding and the rates for that service are just significantly under-funded, and it makes it very difficult to do the work."

Fuller stated that when they made the decision to recruit and hire staff, they took a different approach.

They chose to focus on individuals who had their own lived experiences, in struggling with substance use or mental health issues, and who are now in recovery.

"Our field refers to those people as traditional health workers. They are people who have been there and done that. They have lived through the similar struggles as the clients have gone through in their own treatment or have had family members who have had those struggles," she emphasized.

Fuller said that in this way, they can relate to the client and can share what their struggles were and share hope for change and the things that worked for them and their families.

"The response to that in the community was tremendous," Fuller said of the focus on their recruitment for traditional health workers.

She added that although they were struggling to hire counselors with professional degrees, there was no shortage of people who had a passion and a heart for helping others who had their own lived experience and wanted to do this work.

"We hired a lot of those people, and we paid to have them go through a training that is certified through the Oregon Health Authority. It is for per-delivered services," she said of the certified peer support certification.

In all, Fuller said they hired 32 staff members, including cooks, peer support specialists, counselors, case managers, and a program director.

On April 27, Rimrock Trails sponsored a fundraising lunch for community and business members. According to Community Relations Manager, Michelle Duff, it was their first-ever fundraising luncheon. They had a high turnout and raised nearly $15,000 to support their Adolescent Residential Treatment Program, as well as their Prineville, Redmond, and Bend Counseling Clinics. "Today's event was an inspiring reminder of why our Rimrock Trails Team works tirelessly to promote mental health awareness and ensure that every local individual and family has access to uncompromised counseling services, no matter their financial circumstances," exclaimed Duff of the event on April 27. "We are especially thankful to our speakers Julie and Leslie for helping illustrate the effects that mental health and substance abuse has on an individual, family, and community."

Contact information

Rimrock Trails Treatment Services

Address: 1333 NW Ninth Street

Phone: 541-447-2631 ext. 113

Fax: 541.447.2616

Web: www.rimrocktrails.org


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