The Region 1 Mental Health Board has voted to place closing the Panhandle Health Group’s four locations in Scottsbluff, Alliance Sidney and Kimball on their February 15th board agenda.
The Board ‘s Chairman Doug Hashman of rural Alliance told KNEB News the Panhandle Health Group, formerly known as the Panhandle Mental health Center, has been losing money for several years. Hashman says the number of people being served has dropped and there are cost challenges with transportation and serving a smaller clientele in 11 rural panhandle counties. He says state budget cuts “won’t make it any easier.”
Hashman says Region I Mental Health is still reviewing other options, but the board feels there is a duplication of services and there are adequate outside providers so “nobody goes underserved.” Hashman emphasized if the decision to close is made, Region I is still charged with providing mental health for the region and the transition to other providers will be gradual and not done immediately.
There are an estimated 60 people employed with the Panhandle Health Group. Hashman says some of those people have dual responsibilities with Region I and believes about 20-25 people will be impacted. But he also suggested many of those people can get employment with other providers.