Sarpy County and Nebraska Medicine are renewing the pursuit of a partnership for mental health services at Nebraska Medicine—Bellevue.

The Sarpy County Board approved the agreement at its Oct. 1 meeting.

The agreement does not require either side to commit any resources but signals “an intent and willingness,” County Administrator Dan Hoins said, to create psychiatric emergency services at the hospital.

People with mental health needs often end up in the Sarpy County jail, which contributes to frequent over crowding, and the county is devoting $1.25 million to build a mental health crisis center in the county.

Nebraska Medicine announced in August it planned to establish a mental health crisis center on its Omaha campus. Talks with Sarpy County had stalled, but Hoins said there were good intentions and the county never felt completely rejected.

There are more people in Douglas County than Sarpy County so Nebraska Medicine is focused on its Omaha facility in the short term, Hoins said.

Nebraska Medicine plans to open the facility sometime next summer and Sarpy County will utilize it, he said.

Sarpy County’s plans are longer term, but in the meantime it will continue to look for solutions with the help of its mental health task force that includes the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office and Region 6 Behavioral Healthcare.

“We’ll continue to look for other providers,” Hoins said.

“There’s lots of providers out here. Our endgame is, Let’s get better at mental health. These people deserve better than being in jail, and that’s where they’re at today.

“They just know that we have the need and we’re going to sit at the table.”

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