Shooting Highlights Mental Healthcare Needs in Roseburg

Douglas County struggles to recruit psychiatrists, has experienced years of cuts.

The Lund Report, October 9, 2015
by Courtney Sherwood

Psychologists, social workers and chaplains have descended upon southwest Oregon from across the U.S. this month to help residents of Roseburg come to terms with the aftermath of a community college campus shooting that killed ten people and left many other traumatized. But as professionals and spiritual advisors host grief counseling and prayer sessions, it’s becoming increasingly clear that until the Oct. 1 massacre, Douglas County was struggling to provide the mental health services demanded by community members.

While some of Roseburg’s poorest residents say they got the care they needed through Medicaid-funded health plans, there are no psychiatrists within the community who accept patients with private health insurance or who pay out-of-pocket, according to a local physician. And for years the mental health services available to the community have been shrinking.

In 2007, Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg closed its behavioral health unit, which was the only inpatient mental health option for most people in Douglas County. Telecare Recovery Center opened a 10-bed inpatient center in 2008, but it closed within two years, citing staffing shortfalls. And last year the cash-poor Douglas County government tried to surrender responsibility for mental health care to the state before ultimately assigning that role to Community Health Alliance, a tiny nonprofit founded in 2014 that had $244,527 in assets when it filed taxes for the first time earlier this year.