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Crisis Center patients wait weeks for space at Lincoln Regional Center

The Lincoln Journal Star - 12/26/2018

Dec. 26--It's not just the Lancaster County jail that is having trouble getting people with a serious mental illness into the state-run Lincoln Regional Center.

The local Crisis Center has also seen the wait time for a bed at the Regional Center grow, all while the number of clients sent to the Regional Center has decreased.

In the last year, a female client waited 101 days for a bed at the Regional Center, according to Scott Etherton, the Crisis Center's director.

This woman had tried other options, community-based programs and inpatient services at a private hospital, but needed the longer-term care provided at the Regional Center.

The Crisis Center's average wait time for a Regional Center bed has slowly increased, from an average of 21 days in fiscal year 2014-15 to 42 days last year.

The 16-bed Crisis Center is a short-term program aimed at helping people through a crisis, then sending them home or on to a long-term program. The average length of stay is five to six days.

Currently, many patients who need longer-term help go to inpatient psychiatric units in private hospitals, most at Mary Lanning in Hastings. But those hospitals can't treat everyone. Clients who require more stabilization or care, or are too violent, go to the Regional Center.

The Crisis Center is intended to be a temporary placement, says Lancaster County Commissioner Deb Schorr.

"Because the state hasn't funded enough beds at the Regional Center, the Crisis Center, run by the county, has become a longer-term placement for some people," she said.

Save the skywalk

Diana McGinnis, who lives in a condo just a few blocks from the Cornhusker Marriott, often walks the downtown skywalk system that starts at the hotel and extends to the Gold's Building.

McGinnis, who doesn't own a car, finds the enclosed seven-block skywalk system quite convenient, particularly when the weather is bad.

Naturally, she was concerned when she read that the 40-year contracts related to the ownership, maintenance and care of the skywalk system are ending, with no replacement contracts in sight.

So McGinnis recorded the walk with her digital camera and posted the video on YouTube in an effort to create awareness and support for the skywalk system. She'd even like to see it extended to the Haymarket area.

Generally when she posts videos, she gets a few views -- one or two. But in the first four days of the "Save the Skywalk" video, she had 32 views.

McGinnis graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, then moved to the San Francisco area, where she lived for decades. When she retired in 2003, she moved back to Lincoln to be near her family.

The skywalk situation hasn't changed much since the Journal Star story about the system's legal dilemma ran a month ago.

City staff are working to set up a meeting with property owners along the skywalk system, said Chris Connolly, chief assistant city attorney.

The conversation about the system's future is just getting started, Connolly said.

County bridge bingo

They just slip out of County Engineer Pam Dingman's mouth, like the names of old friends and family.

F225. A25. C34. R210.

Those are the official designations for the almost 5,000 culverts and 300-plus bridges in Lancaster County, the structures that keep us above rivers, streams, gulches and drainage areas.

A friend of Dingman's calls it bridge bingo.

The numbering system, its origin lost in history, begins in the northwest area of the county, with A, and ends with Y in the far southeast corner.

Today there is a digitized bridge inventory, though there are original paper records in a cupboard at the county engineer's office.

A few of the bridges have names. There is the Nuernberger bridge in Wilderness Park, otherwise known as O37, that is named after former County Engineer Marv Nuernberger, and two bridges named after the farmer who left money for their construction in the 1960s -- the Betzer Memorial Bridges.

But most of the bridges have just bingo designations, not names.

There has been much discussion about the need to replace many of the county's older bridges and the cost to do so.

Referring to that history, Larry Legg, the county road design manager, says, "We call them names. We call them the bad bridges of Lancaster County."

LTU transition cost

The transformation of the city's Public Works and Utilities Department to the Lincoln Transportation and Utilities Department, or LTU, will cost about $7,000, for door decals on the city fleet. Each retro-reflective logo is $12.24, according to Miki Esposito, Transportation and Utilities director.

The department will begin to transition to its new name and new logo in 2019.

The Transportation and Utilities Department will use up old stationery and business cards before ordering replacements.

Eagan announces retirement

County Chief Administrator Officer Kerry Eagan will be retiring in a year, at the end of 2019.

Eagan notified the board last week, giving it time to make plans for a transition. Eagan has been the county administrator, serving the Lancaster County Board in essentially a chief-of-staff role, for 29 years -- through 19 county commissioners, starting with Kathy Campbell, Steve Cook, Leo Scherer, Marsha Malone and Larry Hudkins.

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(c)2018 Lincoln Journal Star, Neb.

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