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Panhandle Health Group discussion and vote set for Thursday afternoon

Panhandle Health Group discussion and vote set for Thursday afternoon
(Murphy/KNEB/RRN)

A discussion and voting on the possible closure of the Panhandle Health Group (the former Panhandle Mental Health Center)  will begin at 1 p.m. Thursday during a meeting of the Panhandle Health Group /Region One Behavioral Health Authority Governing board meeting.

The meeting is open to the public and is taking place in the Platte River Room at the Gering Civic Center. The Board ‘s Chairman Doug Hashman of rural Alliance told KNEB News the board is considering closing the Panhandle Health Group’s four locations in Scottsbluff, Alliance, Sidney and Kimball because they have been losing money for several years.

Hashman says the governing board is still reviewing other options, but they feel there is a duplication of services and there are adequate outside providers so “nobody goes underserved.”

However, there are many in the community, including local psychologists,  who are concerned about the possible closure and disagree about whether there is a duplication of services and how many of  the Panhandle Health Group’s clients can be effectively served by outside providers.

A closure would also impact an estimated 60 people employed with the Panhandle Health Group, although the exact number is again a matter of contention due to those that have dual responsibilities with Region One Behavioral Health.

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