State Behavioral Health Division Experiences Leadership Changes

At the latest meeting of the Oregon Health Policy Board, Ebony Clarke, who has been serving as the state’s director of behavioral health for just over a year, announced significant changes within her office. Clarke explained that the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) had brought in a consulting firm to conduct an organizational assessment to identify strengths and weaknesses within the department. With a long-standing consulting contract with Deloitte in place, OHA sought to streamline its operations and improve communication among different divisions.

Clarke emphasized the need to break down silos within OHA and promote collaboration between different areas of focus. As a result of the organizational assessment, the decision was made to eliminate the Health Systems Division and establish a new Behavioral Health Division and Medicaid Division. Clarke will now oversee three deputy directors to ensure a more integrated approach to healthcare services.

Despite the restructuring, no employees were terminated, and the changes took effect on April 1. OHA is also actively recruiting for six key leadership positions, including chief medical officer and chief financial officer, which are currently being filled by interim executives. Sejal Hathi, OHA’s newly appointed director, acknowledged the challenges of filling these roles but remained optimistic about the department’s ability to attract top talent.

Hathi also highlighted the need for a dental director for the Oregon Health Plan and encouraged anyone who knew qualified candidates to reach out to OHA. Overall, the changes announced by Ebony Clarke and the ongoing recruitment efforts reflect OHA’s commitment to improving behavioral health services and enhancing coordination within the department.

By Samantha Robertson

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