Nebraska state senator pens public letter to governor on Lincoln psychiatric hospital issues

Posted at 7:21 PM, Aug 28, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — State Sen. Carol Blood on Monday warned Gov. Jim Pillen in a public letter about issues at the Lincoln Regional Center (LRC).

The LRC is a Nebraska DHHS psychiatric hospital that serves patients sent there by courts or mental health boards.

She says shifts for mental health specialists can last 16 hours or more. She says two mental health specialists there have been in car wrecks trying to make it back in time from a short break of no more than half an hour.

Blood also writes that mandatory overtime is now common and attacks on staff by patients aren't adequately addressed. A lack of custodians, she says, have created an unclean and unhealthy work environment.

"Someone's going to get hurt or killed," Blood told 3 News Now. "I have knowledge of what's going on. And for me to stand back and stay silent helps nobody."

She says her office has been aware of issues at the LRC for half a year.

"The governor's office was also made aware of the situation that's been going on, but very little to no action had been taken," she said.

The governor's office has not responded to a request for comment, but Nebraska DHHS told 3 News Now the center is fully accredited and in good standing.

DHHS added: "The Department takes seriously the safety and well-being of our teammates who care for some of the most vulnerable members of our community. DHHS continues to work with all stakeholders including employees, their union, and others to maintain safety levels at the facility. Staffing shortages at medical facilities, like the LRC, are a nationwide problem. To improve recruitment and retention, wages have increased by over 50% since 2021 and recruiting campaigns are ongoing.”

Blood refers to what's happening there as a problem that's been allowed to fester "as Nebraska tends to do."

She says oversight is made more difficult with Attorney General Mike Hilgers' opinion earlier this month on government-run oversight groups.

"We know that they (the executive branch) are doing everything they can to not be transparent to the media and Nebraskans," Blood said. "Our fear is that our Nebraskans going to start getting used to this as business as usual, where there is no oversight, where there is no accountability."

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