Portland drug treatment center investigates drug abuse among working staff

Chairwoman Jessica Vega Pederson said closing the center "was a difficult, but necessary step."

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC
On Monday, Multnomah County’s Behavioral Health Resource Center reopened after being shut down for two weeks to deal with allegations of inappropriate relationships and drug use by its staff. An investigation into the alleged behavior is ongoing.

The center, located in downtown Portland, has been a boon for the city's addicts, however, residents and business owners in the area have raised concerns over having such a facility in their neighborhood.

According to Multnomah County, the investigation has revealed that only contracted security staff and other contracted employees engaged in the alleged behavior; county employees and clients of the center were not involved.

Complaints were first received on March 29 by a Health Department manager, who was told that staff from all three of the contracted companies working at the center were "involved in inappropriate relationships with other staff." There were also allegations that employees were using an illicit drug on site simply referred to as "powder."

On April 7, a member of the security team admitted to "using cocaine and marijuana onsite, outside of the presence of clients." They were promptly fired, and the center switched providers, ditching DPI Security for Northwest Enforcement Inc.

Chairwoman Jessica Vega Pederson said closing the center "was a difficult, but necessary step to get to the heart of this complaint, resolve any issues, and set expectations for the high level of service we expect from our contractors going forward."

During the two-week closure, the center worked to enhance its operating procedures, and provided further training to its employees. This included "a 90-hour training regimen on Peer Services specifically at the BHRC, including ethics, training to MHAAO’s Code of Conduct and attesting that they agree to, and understand expectations," among other things.

Executive Director Janie Gullickson noted following the center's reopening that staff has "fully cooperated with the investigation," and have "willingly signed attestations of professional codes of conduct." 

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