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City of Portland joins OHSU, PSU, PCC to create $100 mil. education and health center

Three Portland schools are partnering with the city to create a $100 million center housing resources for higher learning and healthcare.

The collaboration between the city, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland Community College, and Portland State University is expected to bring needed healthcare services to local residents.

The 200,000-square-foot facility will be built on the PSU campus at SW Fourth Avenue and Montgomery Street, which is near a TriMet transportation hub.

Mayor Ted Wheeler joined university representatives to make the announcement at PSU on Monday.

“This, to me, is one of the most innovative models that has been proposed anywhere in the nation in terms of creating a unique partnership to begin to rebuild that mental health, public health and broader safety net to help address some of these problems that we are seeing come home to the streets of our city,” Wheeler said.

The building will house OHSU-PSU School of Public Health, PSU Graduate School of Education, PCC’s dental programs, clinic and City of Portland Offices.

“We are very excited to leverage the power of PSU, OHSU and PCC to train Portland’s future health and education leaders. This unique collaboration with the city takes us to a new level of community cooperation, one that sets a standard for Portland, the region and the state,” said PSU President Wim Wiewel.

PSU has requested a $51 milion bond from Oregon State Legislature. PSU states the bond is at the top of the list for recommended capital funding. $15 million will come from the City of Portland. Additional funding will come each of the colleges.

One thing the School of Public Health could help with is the city’s mental health problems.

“It is the only school of public health in the country that is specify focused on the social determinates of health,” said OHSU President Joe Robertson.

“Even in our state we decentralized mental health services with the expectation the communities will take up the slack but implied in the new model of delivery was a promise that the state will provide the funding, to help support community based mental health services. That promise has not been kept," Wheeler added.

"A third of Oregonian woman are suffering from depression. We now have more deaths due to opiates overdoses then we have deaths due to car or road traffic injuries. 138,000 children under 5 in Oregon don’t have access to basic health services or early childhood education," Dr. David Bangsberg, the dean of OHSU-PSU School of Public Health, said.

Willow Wallace said she has a personal mission to attend the school; her mom suffered from PTSD after two tours in Iraq. Wallace said she left home at the age of 15 and worked making $600 a paycheck, with $400 of it going to rent.

She wanted to join the military to help pay the bills and go to school.

“People that come up in families with mental health issues are more likely to be under employed and suffer from mental issues themselves,” said Wallace. “I think it is going to be really beneficial for not just the students but the broader community.”

Now her goal is to graduate and help those suffering from the similar circumstances.

If everything goes according to plans, the building will open in September 2020.

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