Press Release: Al Barton selected as New Executive Director for Mid-Columbia Center for Living

The Tri-County Mental Health Board proudly welcomes Al Barton as its new Executive Director. Mr. Barton has deep expertise with the services offered at Mid-Columbia Center for Living (MCCFL), having previously served as the Deputy Director at MCCFL. Mr. Barton’s extensive experience, combined with a deep passion for improving mental health across our community, will help to further advance the mission of the organization.

Mr. Barton received a Master of Science with a focus on Agency Counseling from The University of Arkansas and is an Oregon Licensed Professional Counselor and Counselor Supervisor as well as a certified Mental Health Examiner, Investigator and Protective Service Investigator. He began his career at MCCFL in 2008 as a Clinical Supervisor before moving to a Clinical Services Manager with MCCFL in 2009. Prior to accepting the Executive Director position, Mr. Barton served as the agency’s Deputy Director for five years and has been acting as the Interim Executive Director since July 2021.

Mr. Barton has spent most of his adult life providing mental health services to his community. Before joining MCCFL, Mr. Barton held the Executive Director position and Director of Needs Assessment and Outpatient Services at Piney Ridge Center, a psychiatric residential health facility in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He has worked in correctional, developmental disabilities and residential settings.

Mr. Barton lives in the Hood River with his wife as an “empty nester” with 3 grown children living in Oregon. He enjoys all the outdoor activities available in the Gorge including Nordic, backcountry and alpine skiing in winter, and hiking, camping and biking in all seasons. Weekends usually find him volunteering as a Mt. Hood Ski Patroller in winter and Bike Patroller in summer.
He brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and continued commitment to MCCFL as he embarks on this new journey leading the agency.

“MCCFL has been through so many challenges over the last two years – a pandemic, serious financial risks, leadership departures and huge staffing needs. Behavioral health is a critical need in our community and this agency provides so many unique safety net services. I’m honored the MCCFL Board and our staff encouraged me to support them as a leader. We have stabilized with crucial support from community partners and Wasco County, the Oregon Health Authority and our two Coordinated Care Organizations (PacificSource and Eastern OR). With the help of the amazing professionals who remain we are re-building a great place to work that helps keep our community well. Here we go! ”

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MCCFL Unfair Labor Practice Resolution

To: Staff, Community Members and Community Partners
From: Dr. June Gower, Executive Director
Date: November 12, 2020
Re: Unfair Labor Practice  Resolution

Mid-Columbia Center for Living & AFSCME have settled the Unfair Labor Practice dispute on several items in good faith. The Union dropped its major claims, and as a result MCCFL agreed to pay a small penalty. This confirms our commitment to continue the bargaining between parties to move resolutions forward; allowing MCCFL to focus on its mission of serving the community in its three counties.

Press Release CDDP Transition of Services

Re: Community Developmental Disabilities Program (CDDP) Transition of Services

The purpose of this press release is to provide accurate information about the Community Developmental Disabilities Program (CDDP) transition happening in Hood River, Wasco and Sherman Counties.

As the current CDDP, Mid-Columbia Center for Living’s (MCCFL) contracted role is to provide eligibility determination, case management, licensure of Foster Homes and protective service investigations for persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD). This important administrative role is being transitioned to another Provider through an Office of Development Disability Services (ODDS) contract. MCCFL is financially unable to support these vital services to the degree needed by the community and so another agency will take over these duties within 60 days. MCCFL’s current operating costs for the CDDP program exceed state funding and MCCFL is facing financial hardship.

More than just clients to MCCFL, people with IDD are our neighbors, family members and citizens of our community. Our existing CDDP staff are dedicated, hardworking and compassionate professionals. We acknowledge the decision to transition our contract after many years of serving the community  is painful, sad and ill-timed; especially during CovId restrictions. MCCFL has strong relationships with other IDD community partners and hears the concerns they share and face with this transition.

CDDP services are not being cut or eliminated in any way in our three counties. Our current CDDP contract with DHS does not affect Local Brokerage, Foster Care, or Home Care Services that are under other contracts; nor does it impact IDD client Medicare funding. To minimize disruption MCCFL has asked ODDS to transition both the program duties and our existing professionally trained staff together. ODDS already have other interested providers they are considering for a new CDDP contract. MCCFL is not involved in ODDS’ decision to select the next CDDP Provider. ODDS will notify MCCFL when the new Provider has been selected. Until new information arrives, MCCFL will continue to listen to community feedback and work to minimize the challenges that arise out of this unfortunate and ill-timed change.

Our goal continues to be assisting in the transition of case management services for the IDD local community, community partners and ODDS until the transition of services are completed. We realize these are extremely difficult times and we are committed to keeping our community informed. Thank you for your patience and understanding as MCCFL assists in the transition of our IDD clients and their services.

Solidarity against Racism

Dear Community Members,

MCCFL is saddened by the senseless death of a Black American in Minneapolis. Just as COVID-19 has brought about overpowering emotions of sadness, anger, fear and hopelessness, it has also opened our eyes to the ongoing racist ideology many in this country hold, giving rise to an insurgence of xenophobic attacks based on ethnicity. It has shown the racial inequities harming our black communities, exposing the structures, systems, and policies responsible for creating social and economic conditions that lead to poor health outcomes, health disparities, and lower life expectancy.
Continue reading “Solidarity against Racism”

How to Help those with Mental Illness or Substance Abuse

by Al Barton, Licensed Professional Counselor at MCCFL

Do you care about someone with a mental illness or substance abuse problem? You are not alone. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) estimates that one out of five Americans have a mental health condition. SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) estimates almost one in 10 Americans have a substance use disorder. Many loved ones may have both a substance use problem and a mental health concern at the same time. It can be frustrating when you see the loved one’s problems clearly while they do not. There are treatments and supports in our community to help. Continue reading “How to Help those with Mental Illness or Substance Abuse”