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Sarpy County eyeing new spot for mental health crisis center

Posted at 4:25 PM, Jun 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-12 17:25:55-04

BELLEVUE, Neb. (AP) — Sarpy County officials are talking to Nebraska Medicine about putting a mental health crisis center at the health system’s hospital campus in Bellevue instead of on land the county had intended to purchase nearby.

The Omaha World-Herald reported that the potential partnership became public Tuesday, five days after the county announced it would back out of an agreement to buy land east of the Nebraska Medicine-Bellevue hospital and clinics. The county planned to spend $1 million on that land purchase.

Funding, operation and other details of the potential partnership have not been determined.

Nebraska Medicine described the talks as very preliminary and said the system was considering a similar facility at Nebraska Medical Center in neighboring Omaha. Sarpy County spokeswoman Megan Stubenhofer-Barrett said the county and Nebraska Medicine could have a formal agreement in the next couple of months.

Sarpy County has been pursuing a crisis center because, officials said, the county jail has become a de facto mental health center for people who don’t belong in a jail.

“Our ultimate goal remains the same: to treat people experiencing a mental health crisis, not to incarcerate those people,” said Sarpy County Board of Commissioners member Jim Warren.

The Bellevue crisis center is expected to be available for use by all Sarpy County law enforcement agencies, as well as those in Cass, Dodge, Douglas and Washington counties.

Several Bellevue officials have been opposing the now-defunct plan to build a center on the land the county no longer intends to buy. Bellevue’s Mayor Rusty Hike said the nearly 7-acre (2.8-hectare) property would be better used for private development because of its drive-by visibility. The city also would lose potential revenue if the tax-exempt crisis center were built on it, Hike said.