Central City Concern: Healing, Housing and a Safe Harbor
PS&D brings deep expertise and a national reach to non-profit’s recruiting efforts.
March 4, 2021
For clinicians at Central City Concern, a nationally recognized powerhouse for homeless and addiction services in Portland, Oregon, success stories run the gamut from astronomical to modest.
There’s the man with a long history of addiction who is able to finish his recovery work, find housing and a job, and repair relationships with his family. Then there’s the woman struggling with addiction and illness who shows up to have lunch with the sister she hasn’t spoken to in 20 years.
Wins small, big and everywhere in between are celebrated by CCC’s staff. The Federally Qualified Health Center has been setting the gold standard for a holistic approach to homelessness, mental health and substance abuse issues since 1979. Clinicians and employees of CCC know that, especially during a global pandemic, every small step toward healing is a step closer to recovery and independence.
At Provider Solutions & Development, we are honored to be a recruiting partner for Central City Concern. The non-profit runs nine clinics and residential treatment centers where patients can access Primary Care, addiction treatment, mental health care, acupuncture, a pharmacy, as well as housing and employment assistance. With 900 employees, CCC also operates over 2,200 units of supportive housing, helping 14,000 people per year build healthy, resilient lives. As COVID has made Central City’s services more critical than ever, we are proud to be assisting this incredible organization with their open positions.
An ‘Exciting Place to Practice'
Dr. Rachel Solotaroff began working for Central City Concern in 2006 and has been CEO since 2017. Described by others as the “heart, soul and conscience” of the organization, she still sees patients two days a week.
"One of the cardinal virtues of CCC is that we adapt and evolve our services based on the needs of our patients, and you can only do that well if you’re on the front lines,” Dr. Solotaroff says. “It’s easier to lead when I can understand the needs and help design a response."
CCC seeks out physicians and advanced practice clinicians with similar values and commitment, and Dr. Solotaroff says its medical clinics are packed with passionate, dedicated providers.
"We offer incredibly high-quality care," she says. "We have brilliant clinicians, some of whom graduated at the top of their class. It’s clinically a very rigorous place, and intellectually, it’s an exciting place to practice."
In 2020, Central City Concern decided it needed a recruiting partner with deep experience and a wide network. In the last year, PS&D has helped CCC hire top candidates into its executive-level, physician and nurse practitioner roles.
"As we've grown, we realized we needed to build out our talent acquisition process. Our partnership with PS&D grew from that," Dr. Solotaroff says. "Being able to have a national reach for the work that we do has become really important because what we do is so specialized."
"Our providers not only have to have excellent clinical skills, but an understanding of community health and the social determinants of health. They need to understand the complexities of homelessness and poverty and how trauma, social alienation and lack of access to good food all contribute to the person or patient sitting in the room with them. Having a partner like PS&D who can look across the country and find like-minded candidates who have that kind of knowledge and experience has been invaluable."
Finding the Right Clinicians
For Dr. Solotaroff, finding the right clinicians is essential. While 2020 was difficult for everyone, it was an especially punishing year for the patients of Central City Concern clinics.
"COVID has exacerbated every issue our patients already have around having adequate food, clothing, feeling safe, loneliness and social isolation," she says. "Even if they didn’t have acute mental health issues, COVID triggered their underlying trauma. And while the social justice movement has been invigorating for patients of color, it has also been challenging. Many are reliving their own experiences of racial injustice. There is so much processing happening."
In the midst of the pandemic, Dr. Solotaroff is most proud that CCC has been able to keep all its clinics and housing programs open, with some modifications in congregate settings and recovery groups, and bringing video capability and broadband to people who have never had it.
She notes the strong connection between health and housing. Of the patients who participate in CCC’s transitional housing programs, 80% go on to find permanent housing. And, when patients participate in CCC’s housing programs, their health costs drop by 60%.
In fact, many of the organization’s 900 staff members are former patients who were able to turn their lives around. This helps make CCC’s services approachable and inviting.
"We've broken down the stigma that people who are experiencing these issues, mental health or addiction, should be in harsh, institutional places," she says. "When someone walks into one of our clinics they see that they’re lovely, they’re full of light. They feel that, 'I'm worth this. This is my community. This is my home. I belong here.' "
Dr. Solotaroff says that being able to continue to deliver cutting-edge facilities, services and providers to CCC’s patient population during a pandemic has been "pretty incredible. It’s a credit to the commitment of our staff."
In the image above, Dr. Lauren Land, a Central City Concern physician, left, examines a patient at one its 12 Federally Qualified Health Clinics in Portland, Oregon.