The practice of psychiatric boarding—effectively warehousing patients suffering a mental health crisis in Oregon emergency rooms ill-equipped to serve them—has become a major problem, here and around the country, as WW reported last summer.

Today, four major local health plans announced what could be a major breakthrough in stopping that practice, as well as helping patients who are currently not being served.

Here's the announcement:

Adventist Health, Kaiser Permanente, Legacy Health and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) have signed a Letter of Intent to open the area’s first comprehensive behavioral health care center in late 2016. Called the Unity Center for Behavioral Health, the facility will include psychiatric emergency services for people with acute psychiatric crises, as well as an inpatient facility with services for both adults and adolescents. These psychiatric emergency services are modeled on the successful program at the John George Psychiatric Pavilion in Alameda County, Calif. where 75 percent of the patients are successfully cared for and stabilized in less than 24 hours. Because patients received appropriate treatment without unnecessary waiting, the program is producing better outcomes. The inpatient facility will include 79 adult and 22 adolescent patient beds. The new center will offer space to organizations providing community behavioral health services allowing patients to plan for support after discharge. Adventist Health, Legacy Health and OHSU will move their behavioral health inpatient services to the Unity Center for Behavioral Health. It is possible that new jobs will be created with the implementation of this new model. The center will be located on Legacy’s Holladay Park campus following renovations. The cost of the construction is estimated at $50 million. Legacy Health will donate $10 million in real estate and is committed to actively seeking the additional funds from a combination of corporations, foundations, government entities and individual donors. The next step in the process is the development of a joint operating agreement detailing the management and operations of the facility, including the involvement of local advocacy and peer groups.