BELLEVUE, Neb. (KMTV) — Compared to other states Nebraska is lagging behind in mental health facilities, with many just taken to jail because there is no where else to put them.
Sarpy County wants to give them a better option.
"There is nothing like this in Nebraska and we're excited to be on the forefront of this kind of a facility,” says Don Kelly, Chairman of the Sarpy County Board.
Commissioner Kelly says they have tried for three years to bring a mental health care facility to the county.
They're now honing in on a location, Nebraska Medicine in Bellevue.
In a statement, the hospital says nothing is official yet but confirmed discussions started months ago saying, "While the conversations have been very preliminary, the goal would be to develop an environment for patients needing help with immediate psychiatric needs."
Kelly says co-locating it next to a hospital is what they learned other successful facilities do around the country.
"From the county end we're committed, I think from the Nebraska Medicine end, you talk with the doctors and psychiatric department, they recognize the problem, they know they can bring help to it,” says Kelly.
This would be a huge upgrade to the current system where people with mental illness are taken either to the emergency room, or worse, the county jail, where the worst cases need to be placed in a special location in the basement, on average, that's seven people at a time.
Which isn't ideal for the patients or the county.
"It's no secret that our county jail is overpopulated and when you look at the inmates that are in there you realize quickly that a lot of them are dealing with mental crisis not criminal issues,” says Kelly.
With a new facility, patients would have better access to medications and doctors to get the help they need faster with the hopes of eventually getting back on their feet.
There is no timeline on when the county and Nebraska Medicine will come to an agreement.
Kelly also is unsure of the cost of everything, that's because he says it's unclear of how many people they'll need to bring in to run the facility.