State cuts Fairbanks mental health center funding

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — An Anchorage mental health care provider will take over management of a state grant for services in Fairbanks.

Officials with the state Division of Behavioral Health said Wednesday that the agency will void its grant to the Fairbanks Community Behavioral Health Center.

The board of the Fairbanks Center last week voted to pursue bankruptcy. Starting next week, the Division of Behavioral Health will shift funding for Fairbanks clients to Anchorage Community Mental Health Services.

The new interim director for the Fairbanks center, Jake Poole, told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/18FBA00) that he expects 60 people employed by the center to keep their jobs. Changes for the 1,000 annual clients, he said, should be minimal.

“From what I can tell in this short period of time, it’s really going to be seamless,” said Poole, a former University of Alaska Fairbanks administrator, who came on board in a temporary role Tuesday.

The center provides emergency psychiatric care, chronic mental health treatment and residential care.

The health center is at least $1.2 million in debt. Board members said they learned of the scope of the financial troubles in May when administrators revealed they were struggling to meet payroll.

Details of the transition to new management have not been made clear, Poole said. Bankruptcy at some point could mean liquidation of assets such as the organization’s South Cushman Street headquarters.

The state has begun a forensic audit to find out why the board did not find out earlier about the center’s financial problems, he said.

The Anchorage center will oversee Fairbanks mental health services until at least June 30.

The state could accept proposals for another entity to take over services after that. Administrative services could permanently shift outside Fairbanks.

“You can’t be everything to everyone, everywhere,” Poole said. “There just aren’t enough people to do that.”

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com

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