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Letter: Same CBHH, revised program

There is need to clarify some information surrounding the Willmar Community Behavioral Health Hospital, located on Olena Avenue Southeast.

It is believed that the adult mental health program that was opened there in August of 2008 is still in operation. That is false. The program that was opened in August of 2008 is no longer in operation as of May 2010, when a third of the staff employed there was given lay-off notices.

The previous governor, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, along with assistant commissioner Mike Tessner and CBHH administrator Rod Kornrumpf, designated the site in May of 2010 to provide services to adults with complex behavioral health problems, for the reason that it was indeed a needed service, something that was overlooked in the original design.

The site has recently been surveyed by Minnesota State Licensing in February and is ready to officially proceed as an enhanced residential service, serving persons with complex behavioral health problems, that can receive rehabilitation services and be billed through Medical Assistance. (Since the conversion in May, the program has been better utilized for those types of patients.)

The service has developed an admission criteria so it does not compete with local or regional services. It will provide services to the southwest 18 counties, the four northeast counties, Benton, Sherburne, Stearns, and Wright counties, as well as statewide referrals.

We cannot afford to lose any more mental health programs for adults with mental illness, nor can we afford to lose 18 full-time positions in the outstate area. It may seem insignificant in contrast to today's layoffs by corporations, but the loss of any job in an outstate area has a severe economic impact.

Patrick Thibault