Governor Tours Mental Health Centers

By: Holly Wagner
By: Holly Wagner

Gov. Mike Johanns takes the state's mental health issues on the road.

Thursday the governor toured some of Nebraska's community based mental health facilities.

This a day after LB 1083 sparks a great deal of debate in the state capitol. Hundreds of people spoke out on the issue of mental health reform. Norfolk and Hastings leaders made their case for keeping the regional centers open. While others promoted the positives of community based programs.

Thursday Gov. Mike Johanns visited community based programs in Sargent, Nebraska. The Beverly Health Care Nursing Home offers one on one attention to people like Modina Miller. Miller couldn't talk a year ago - today she's not afraid to share a few words.

The Director of the home, Tim Groshans says, "It's the best quality of life some of them have seen in years."

The pilot program is catered to the needs of the residents. This is exactly what Gov. Mike Johanns is talking about when it comes to community based mental health care.
It's not only happening in the Beverly Home, Telemedicine is a technique in full affect at a local hospital in Broken Bow.

Dr. Richard Raymond, Chief Medical Officer says, "We can bring the social worker, the psychiatrist, the psychologist to the patient. Without the delay in time and travel."
At Richard Young Hospital in Kearney the medical staff focuses on treatment preparing patients to go back into the community.

Gov. Mike Johanns says, "I come here and see state of the art facilities, I go to Norfolk and see windows boarded up."

"It's time for us to change this."

The governor says it's about improving the quality of life for people like Modina Miller, who are just seeing, but are really feeling the difference community based care can bring.
Gov. Johanns says if we don't do something soon, he feels the system will implode.

And yet, many leaders in both Hastings and Norfolk are not happy with the plans, and fear the economic impact of the regional centers closing.

Opponents to the idea of community based care wonder if the programs will really work, and if they will be effective in rural settings.

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