Newsroom > DHHS News Release

July 15, 2010

Jeanne Atkinson, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-8287

Regional Center Discharge Follow-Up Study Completed

Lincoln – A study of 1,225 adults discharged from selected units of Regional Centers between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2008 as a result of reform of Nebraska’s public mental health system is available at

“Behavioral health reform legislation in 2004 focused on lessening reliance on state Regional Centers and enhancing community-based services so more people could be served closer to their friends and families,” said Scot Adams, director of the Division of Behavioral Health in the Department of Health and Human Services.

Adams said that as a result of behavioral health reform efforts, more than $30 million was transferred to communities to increase the number and types of community services, and 316 Regional Center general psychiatric beds have been closed. In April 2007, adult behavioral health services at the Hastings Regional Center were closed and in June, 2010, the last general mental health patients were transferred from the Norfolk Regional Center.

The Division contracted with the University of Nebraska Medical Center to develop a statewide system to monitor outcomes and services used by people discharged from regional centers between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2008.

Adams said the study confirms that there’s still an important role for a Regional Center in the continuum of care provided to people with a mental illness. The report says that 45.8 percent of the 1,225 consumers had a combination of “Serious Mental Illness, Personality Disorder, and Substance-Related Disorder,” compared to five percent of consumers overall. This shows that behavioral health reform consumers had more serious and difficult-to-treat behavioral health conditions than the general population of behavioral health consumers served through the Division in community programs.

Report findings regarding 1,225 consumers include:

  • Regional Center admission records show that only 12 percent had private insurance or paid the cost of care themselves; 42 percent reported they did not have insurance; 25 percent had Medicaid; and 18 percent had Medicare.
  • Report findings indicate that 64 percent had serious mental illnesses in combination with substance abuse disorders. Co-occurring disorders increase the likelihood of additional medical, social and legal problems according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This can require a variety of services like employment, education, housing, and legal assistance, which are only possible through interagency collaboration to provide integrated care.
  • SAMHSA collects indicators such as readmission rates from state behavioral health programs. Nebraska had considerably lower readmission rates than the national average: the average 180-day readmission for Nebraska during this time period was 10.3 percent, compared to 21.3 percent nationally. Adams said comparison and interpretation of findings from different states needs to be done with some caution because consumer populations served and data systems implemented can differ considerably across states.
  • After discharge from a Regional Center, 76 percent of the 1,225 consumers used both behavioral and non-behavioral health services (e.g., medical care, social service/economic assistance). The trend data shows that the proportion of people receiving Medicaid services remained stable while some services, such as community-based behavioral health and economic assistance, declined over time. The proportion of people who used emergency service also declined during this period.
  • Prevention and treatment of chronic and acute medical illnesses are important in increasing longevity and quality of life among people with behavioral health disorders. Preliminary analysis of medical co-morbidities indicates that medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, diabetes, and hypertension are relatively common in people with serious mental illness.