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Dozens of layoffs expected at Oklahoma mental facilities

By The Associated Press Modified: January 13, 2010 at 11:03 am •  Published: January 13, 2010
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NORMAN — Dozens of employees at state mental health facilities will be laid off by March because of budget cuts, according to a spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

The move will allow the cash-strapped agency to eliminate about $4.5 million from its operating budget amid persistent revenue shortfalls.

Jeff Dismukes, spokesman for ODMHSAS, said pinpointing the exact number of those losing their jobs is complicated and the picture should become clearer as more time passes.

Monday, a Reduction in Force (RIF) notice was presented to 45 employees at state-run mental health facilities in Norman, including Griffin Memorial Hospital, the Norman Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center and the Children's Recovery Center.

"We estimate that over 50 ODMHSAS employees may lose their jobs as a result of the latest RIF actions," Dismukes said.

"The majority of these are from the Norman and Oklahoma City areas."

Another nine employees were given RIF notices Monday at the state-run Bill Willis Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Center in Tahlequah.

According to the RIF notice, the cuts in Tahlequah will trim about $550,000 from the departments operating budget.

The facilities in Norman, in addition to shedding jobs, also will be reorganized, including the merger of the NADTC and the Childrens Recovery Center a move to protect Oklahoma's at-risk youth, the RIF notice shows.

Some women receiving treatment at mental facilities in Norman will be moved to other centers with connections to the state, including the Rose Rock Recovery Center in Vinita and the Northwest Center for Behavioral Health in Guthrie.

The RIF notice for the Norman facilities, which is posted on the ODMHSAS Web site, also acknowledged the reorganization will leave a serious treatment gap for men in need of care.

With Oklahoma's legislative session set to begin the first of week of February, State Sen. Know it: Mental Health

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