County names new head of troubled department, as review of handling of abuse complaints continues.

MULTNOMAH COUNTY - Multnomah County has named Ebony Clarke to head its troubled mental health and addiction services division.Multnomah County has named a new director of its troubled mental health and addiction services division on the same day it fired two mental health managers at the center of an investigation of the handling of abuse complaints.

Ebony Clarke, 42, who has been serving as deputy director will take over the division, replacing longtime director David Hidalgo, one of the two managers who were terminated. The county also terminated the division's quality assurance manager, Joan Rice.

"I have determined that your continued employment is no longer in the best interests of Multnomah County," wrote Marissa Madrigal, the county's chief operations officer, in nearly identical March 27 letters to Hidalgo and Rice. "Please consider this letter your termination notice effective immediately. Your final paycheck will be sent ... today."

In December 2018 the Portland Tribune first reported that prosecutors and a sheriff's investigator were looking into whether division employees had committed any crimes while mishandling at least 16 complaints of abuse received concerning adults struggling with mental illness at the Unity Center for Behavioral Health.

Clarke, a lcensed clinical social worker, was Hidalgo's deputy since 2014.

Here is the county announcement:

Multnomah County on Wednesday announced that Ebony Clarke has been named director of Mental Health and Addiction Services Division.

The Division oversees a continuum of behavioral health services and a provider network to prevent, intervene and treat mental illness and addiction. Chief Operating Officer Marissa Madrigal announced the appointment. Clarke, 42, has been deputy director since 2014 and acting interim director since August 2018.

She replaces David Hidalgo, who is no longer with the County.

Born and raised in Portland, Clarke is a licensed clinical social worker who has worked in public and non-profit behavioral health organizations for more than 20 years, with particular emphasis in organizational development, management and equity and inclusion. Clarke holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Oregon and a master's in social work from Portland State University.

Prior to assuming the role of deputy director, Clarke managed the children's system of mental health care for the County, was the Service Director of Child and Family Mental Health and Culturally Specific Addiction Services at Lifeworks NW and was a behavioral health program director at the Juvenile Justice Center of Philadelphia.

On Wednesday the Division also announced a recruitment for a quality manager of behavioral health care. Former manager Joan Rice is no longer with the County. The County is declining further comment pending an on-going review of the Division.

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