Public meeting May 3 on county behavioral health lay-offs

Public meeting Thursday, May 3, on county behavioral health lay-offs

The impact of last week’s abrupt layoff of nine mental health and addiction counselors, and several part time staffers in the Lincoln County Department of Health and Human Services’ Behavioral Health Division will be the sole topic this Thursday [May 3] at the regular monthly public meeting of the Lincoln County Addiction Prevention and Recovery Committee (APARC), in Newport.

The committee (also known as the Local Alcohol and Drug Abuse Planning Committee) is the state-mandated addictions advisory committee for Lincoln County.

APARC Chair Chandler Davis said County Commissioner Doug Hunt, who directly oversees the health department and interim health department Director Rebecca Austen have both agreed to attend the meeting, along with County Attorney Wayne Belmont, to answer questions about the decision.

Davis is also the Vice Chair of the county’s state mandated Mental Health Advisory Committee (MHAC), which also meets on Thursdays, and he will be chairing both meetings, “This decision is of equal concern to the mental health committee, of course, but we meet consecutively so I was able to clear the APARC agenda to allow for an hour of discussion and questions immediately following the mental health meeting, between 1:30 and 2:30 pm.”

The two statutory citizens’ committees are responsible for assessing addiction and mental health needs in both the private and public sectors of the community and informing the county commissioners and the public. Members include treatment and prevention professionals, treatment consumers, and representatives from law enforcement and the courts, the medical community, and the faith community.

Both the mental health and addiction treatment impacts will be discussed at the meeting, and members of both committees will be urged to attend. Other members of the public — including county health department clients who will be directly impacted —  are encouraged to attend and will be allowed to participate in the discussion and to ask questions as time allows.

The two committees meet every first Thursday from noon to 2:30 pm in Room 207 at the health department’s temporary administrative headquarters in the Western Title Building half a block south of Newport City Hall, at 255 SW Coast Highway. For more information, call or email Lauri Snow at the committees’ county office at 541-265-0441 or