Fairbanks mental health organization cuts staff

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A new version of the organization that provides mental health services in Fairbanks has reopened with a smaller staff.

The newly formed and smaller Fairbanks Community Mental Health Services reopened Wednesday.

It predecessor, Fairbanks Community Behavioral Health Center, ended operations Friday as it made plans to file for bankruptcy. The organization is $1.2 million in debt and couldn’t afford to operate any longer.

New chief executive officer Jerry Jenkins says the operation simply wasn’t paying for itself.

He told social service providers it will end free services, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported (http://bit.ly/156JHao).

“We’re a clinic provider,” he said. “Those things are gone.”

The new operation is a subsidiary of Anchorage Community Mental Health Services and will provide care for mental health clients until at least July.

Jenkins, who also is the CEO of the Anchorage organization, said a priority will be stabilizing shaky finances.

The Alaska Division of Behavioral Services said about 550 clients had services billed to Medicare last year. About 1,200 patients received care at the facility.

More staffing and service cuts were necessary than first thought to meet financial goals, interim executive director Jake Poole said.

Staffing by the end of the week is expected to be reduced from 63 people to 25. Jenkins says the Denardo Center, which provides 24-hour crisis care, will close at the end of this week unless a new funding source is found.

Organization officials said they likely will move into the smaller Denardo Center and leave their main building in south Fairbanks, where the mortgage, maintenance and utility costs were about $400,000 last year.

“This building is now too big for what the organization is capable of providing,” Poole said.

Fairbanks Community Behavioral Health Center owned six buildings, and the status is uncertain. Poole said once the center decides where to locate, the fate of the other buildings will likely be determined in bankruptcy court.


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

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