A ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, May 19, 2022, celebrating the opening of Bridgeway Plaza in Salem. (Ardeshir Tabrizian/Salem Reporter)

When Tim Murphy set out to find a place to serve as a hub for mental health and addiction treatment in Salem, he didn’t think it would take him eight years.

But on Monday, a new hub opened that will combine Bridgeway Recovery Services’ mental health, chemical dependency and problem gambling programs to increase access where providers say it is lacking.

Murphy, Bridgeway’s founder and CEO of Bridgeway Recovery Services, said the opening of Bridgeway Plaza on Northeast Front Street will make treatment more available in Salem for the roughly 450 people his organizations treats monthly.

Murphy said he chose that location because he wanted a place downtown “in full view,” partly to address the stigma of getting treatment for mental health or chemical dependency, which he hopes will one day be as normal as going to the dentist.

“Oftentimes it’s that stigma that gets in the way of people reaching out for services, so we wanted to make it front and center,” he said. “We’re here, we’re available, it’s okay to come to treatment.”

He said the new Bridgeway Plaza comes at a time when there are not enough providers in the right locations for Oregonians struggling with addiction to find support.

“We're going to be able to create more opportunities for people to achieve sobriety if that's their goal,” he said.

Previously, Murphy said Bridgeway Recovery Services didn’t have enough space to grow, instead opening different outpatient clinics and residential treatment homes with counselors scattered among them.

The new plaza will allow patients – who can self-refer but are often referred by their primary care doctor – to come in for an assessment, get referred to a counselor and receive individual or group treatment in the same place.

“We had to run our clients around a little bit,” he said.” Now it’s going to be much more consumer-friendly.”

Murphy started looking for a location for the plaza in 2012. He said he bought the new property at 750 Front St. N.E. in 2020 for about $1.75 million from McNary Square Partners, and it took a year and a half to remodel the building.

The plaza will offer outpatient evaluation and treatment for mental illness, substance abuse and people struggling with symptoms of both.

Another property Bridgeway purchased next door will be the future home of its detox center and primary care clinic. Construction on that building is slated to start next year and be completed likely well into 2024, Murphy said.

Murphy’s company first opened in 2009 with 40 employees and with one location at 3325 Harold Dr. N.E., Bridgeway now employs 115 and will continue operating its detox center and primary care clinic at the Harold Drive location until they are moved to the new Bridgeway Plaza.

Bridgeway offers the only detox center in Marion Polk, Linn and Yamhill counties. Physicians and nurses at Bridgeway help people with addictions through medically managed withdrawal for around a week before staff follow up to continue providing outpatient services.

The new detox center would increase the number of beds from 27 to 40, he said.

Bridgeway owns two residential treatment homes in Salem, one on Northeast Winter Street and another on South Liberty Road, as well as one in Stayton which they hope to reopen next year after it closed in March 2020. They also have a counselor in most middle and high schools in the Salem-Keizer School District, who offer drug counseling to students.

Murphy said Bridgeway will hire new counselors for mental health, drug and alcohol, and co-occurring disorder in the next six months to work at the plaza.  

The plaza opened doors to patients Monday, and Murphy said staff told patients ahead of time at appointments or contacted them to let them know of the change.

“People came right in, and we haven't had a whole lot of people go into the wrong building,” he said. “We did a lot of work preemptively to make sure all of our patients, clients knew where to go and how to get there, they knew what bus line to take if they were on the bus.”

PRIOR COVERAGE:

With the help of a grant, a Salem nonprofit will offer helping hand to those leaving prison

With open conversations about addiction, Bridgeway’s primary care provider tackles health and recovery

Despite pandemic restrictions, Salem clinic finds a way to help those with mental illness, addiction

 Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

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