Patients, advocates and supporters of the Panhandle Health Group spoke for three hours Thursday but financial shortfalls over the last ten years forced a decision Thursday to close mental health services at the agency’s four locations in Scottsbluff, Alliance, Kimball and Sidney.
During a meeting of the Panhandle Health Group /Region One Behavioral Health Authority Governing board, the vote was 10- 1 to close PHG on or before June 30th.
The recommendation of the governing board to amend the current interlocal agreement and close PHG is contingent upon approval of the eleven county commissions who belong to Region One. In the unlikely event any of the boards reject the recommendation, it will be their responsibility to maintain the facilities and continue to provide PHG’s services on their own.
Vice Chair Susanna Batterman of Morrill County emphasized services will be maintained during the transition as they consider offers from other providers to take over services. Batterman said clients should continue to make their appointments and have “patience and faith” that the governing board with time will have a solution to keep mental health services in place.
Board Chairman Doug Hashman of Box Butte County says there are seven providers, both public and private, interested in continuing the services to those mostly at risk or with little or no income.
Garden County Commissioner Bob Radke cast the lone no vote, maintaining the board had not done enough to look at other options than closing PHG.