- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 2, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Demolition is looming for a two-story building in Lincoln that was once a haven for thousands of people who needed mental health services.

Bryan Health purchased the former Lancaster County Mental Health Center and Crisis Center in April for $3 million, the Lincoln Journal Star reported .

The hospital couldn’t find an immediate use for the building and has decided to demolish it, said Edgar Bumanis, a spokesman for the hospital. Bryan Health’s contractor applied for a demolition permit Dec. 21.

“We spent some time evaluating whether we could use the building,” Bumanis said. “In the end, it was decided it wasn’t usable as it is now.”

The hospital is unsure how it will develop the site, Bumanis said. The hospital bought the nearby Sun Mart grocery store in 2015 and turned the property into green space and parking.

The center’s 120 staff members saw nearly 5,000 people at its peak, said Dean Settle, the mental health center’s longtime director.

“We were the safety net for Lincoln for almost half a century,” Settle said. “We’d get poor people, homeless people, people without any insurance, people with multiple physical as well as mental illnesses.”

Employees were able to extend lifespans and prevent suicides, he said.

“There was no one ever turned away; part of it was the philosophy of being funded by county dollars,” Settle said. “The county took very, very seriously that we were probably the court of last resort.”

The County Board privatized its main mental health programs in 2013 to save money. It contracted with Lutheran Family Services and CenterPointe.

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

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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