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Lincoln detox program may lose funding, state license

June 3, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A decades-old detox program in Lincoln could be forced to close if it loses its funding and state license for locking intoxicated people in rooms.

The Lincoln Journal Star reports that The Bridge Behavioral Health’s detox program often locks very intoxicated individuals in a treatment room after they’re brought in by Lincoln police.

Tammy Stevenson, executive director of the program, said The Bridge’s civil protective custody program first puts individuals in a locked room, and then determines whether they can safely be moved to an unlocked location. The program cannot receive national accreditation if all individuals are initially placed in locked rooms, Stevenson said.

The state’s Division of Behavioral Health is threatening to cancel its $100,000 in funding this summer if the unit doesn’t get accredited.

Medicaid funding is also in jeopardy, which used to contribute between $50,000 and $60,000 a year to the program. Medicaid staff said they’d only pay for social detoxification if a new managed care firm took over.

But The Bridge would need to remodel and hire more staff in order to swap its locked-door policy for another approach, Stevenson said.

The change would also mean the program couldn’t take as many clients, including juveniles and individuals known to be combative, she said.

Police bring more than 3,600 people a year to The Bridge for involuntary detoxification. It could cost the county another $1.5 million to jail those formerly in the detox program.

Individuals jailed would first have to be charged with a crime, which would lead to additional fees in court costs, said Brad Johnson, manager of the county jail.

The Bridge staff is also concerned that the program could lose state licensing.

Losing state licensing would mean the program would be forced to close, since most medical staff wouldn’t work at an unlicensed program, Stevenson said.

Some Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services officials recently assured the program’s staff that they’d work together on the licensing issue.


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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