Douglas County Commission approves financial plan for behavioral health crisis center project

photo by: Contributed photo/Treanor HL

This rendering shows Douglas County's planned behavioral health crisis center, which would be part of the Treatment and Recovery Campus of Douglas County, located at 1000 W. Second St., near the corner of Maine and West Second streets. The facility is expected to be constructed by the end of 2021.

A Douglas County mental health leader on Wednesday said he was on the verge of tears when the County Commission was set to approve the financial plans for a long-proposed behavioral health crisis center.

Patrick Schmitz, CEO for Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, told the commissioners during their meeting that he was thankful for the county’s work on the project, which is now one step closer to coming to fruition.

“This is going to be such a significant piece to what we are doing here in this county,” Schmitz said. “I know our community is going to benefit from a great leap forward for decades to come.

“I’m almost in tears, actually, to be sitting here right now at this point,” he added.

The commissioners unanimously approved a total project budget of about $10.43 million for the facility, which includes paying for the construction, facility equipment and professional services costs for the entire project. The approval gives authorization for the construction of the facility, which the county has been working on since 2015.

Project financial details:

Douglas County Commission to consider authorizing financial plan for proposed behavioral health crisis center

The crisis center is a planned 20,000-square-foot facility that would provide behavioral health crisis services. The facility includes 16 spaces for people to receive 23 hours of observation from behavioral health professionals and another 16 bedrooms for others to receive 72 hours of observation.

It will be part of the Treatment and Recovery Campus of Douglas County — located at 1000 W. Second St., near the corner of Maine and West Second streets — which will provide three housing and treatment facilities for Douglas County residents dealing with behavioral health issues. Construction projects for the other two portions of the campus, Transitions and The Cottages, are expected to be completed next month, the Journal-World has reported.

Commissioner Michelle Derusseau specifically thanked fellow Commissioner Nancy Thellman for her work on the project, saying Thellman was “one of the first people to bring this to the forefront.” She also thanked the county staff and community partners — which include Bert Nash and LMH Health, among others — who brought the project together.

“I hope someday our community realizes the blood, sweat and tears and the amazing partnership that has gone on here to get this for our community,” Derusseau said.

In their approval on Wednesday, the commissioners authorized the budget breakdown for the project, which includes $7.9 million for the construction of the facility, $1.4 million for outfitting the facility with equipment, furniture and fixtures and $1.1 million for professional services and contingency funding.

County Administrator Sarah Plinsky told the commissioners she plans for them to consider a debt financing plan for the project next week. However, she noted the debt financing plan will look slightly different than the total budget plan for the crisis center because it will also include some of the costs for the other portions of the behavioral health campus, Transitions and The Cottages.

County officials have previously said they expected construction to begin this fall and be completed by the end of 2021. The county plans to host a groundbreaking ceremony noon Friday, Oct. 23. The event is not open to the public because of the ongoing pandemic, but will be streamed on the LMH Health Facebook page,

Related coverage:

• Nov. 10, 2019 — Construction of behavioral health campus set to begin, but price tag for Douglas County may grow

• Feb. 16, 2020 — Health leaders provide updated facility design for planned Douglas County behavioral health crisis center

• March 27, 2020 — Douglas County crisis center receives $750K in state budget

• Oct. 7, 2020 — Construction of Douglas County behavioral health crisis center expected to cost $8 million

• Oct. 13, 2020 — Douglas County Commission to consider authorizing financial plan for proposed behavioral health crisis center

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