Watch our mental health forum

Watch our forum on the 1/10th of 1% sales tax for mental health services on YouTube or ECTV at the links below:



More information on mental and behavioral health can be found at the Kittitas County Health Network website:

About our panelists:

RICH ELLIOTT – Deputy Fire Chief – Kittitas Valley Fire and Rescue. 

He manages operations, training and prevention. Operations includes EMS which includes response, transport and community outreach ,which is how he is directly involved in behavioral and mental health access for the community. 

AUREN O’CONNELL – DNP, PMHNP – Family Psychiatric Mental-Health Nurse Practitioner with Kittitas Valley Healthcare (KVH). 

Auren is based out of Family Medicine Cle Elum but serves all of Kittitas County in conjunction with primary care providers across the KVH family. Currently, Auren’s main passion is helping to launch a behavioral health collaborative care program within Family Medicine Cle Elum to foster better access to rapid behavioral health and psychiatric interventions. 

DEDE UTLEY – Director, Emergency Services, KVH. 

With over twenty years of experience in emergency nursing, I have vast experience related to the emergency care of behavioral health patients while being treated in the emergency department. People with behavioral health conditions seek help, but often times have nowhere to turn except their local emergency department. We work closely with our local designated crisis responders to provide care in the hospital setting, until the patient receives adequate outpatient or inpatient services.

STEVE PANATTONI – KC Jail superintendent

He has been employed with the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office since 1982. In 1990 He started his law enforcement leadership journey as sergeant. Since 2005 he was assigned to the Sheriff’s Command staff.  He has worked in all areas of the Sheriff Office, Jail, patrol, major crimes, civil and administration.  

In 2019 he accepted the role of Jail Superintendent for the Sheriff. His skills and experience include many certifications in levels of leadership, command and agency administration budget/finance, community policing, Grant management etc.  His current focus is on strategic planning for the future of the Jail, securing avenues of sustained funding and developing programs to benefit our inmates while incarcerated and prepare them for reentry to society with the hopes of reducing recidivism and helping them be productive members of our community.    

DIANE ROSSOW – Community Prevention and Wellness (CPWI) Coordinator for Ellensburg. 

CPWI is a partnership of state agencies, counties, schools and local prevention coalitions supporting communities in preventing alcohol and other drug abuse and its negative consequences. CPWI priorities include reducing underage drinking, marijuana use and opioid misuse/abuse among middle and high school aged youth.

GREG AUBOL – Director for Comprehensive Healthcare in Kittitas County.  

Leadership of clinical offices in Cle Elum and Ellensburg, Comprehensive’s ten transitional housing units, day support programming, domestic violence/sexual assault victim advocacy program, substance use disorder treatment program, and crisis response staff.  Comprehensive’s Designated Crisis Responders provide 24 hour crisis response to residents of Kittitas County.  They also provide limited contracted services to local school districts and the county jail.  

Additionally, Kittitas County residents benefit from utilization of two 16-bed adult inpatient evaluation and treatment centers, a child and adolescent inpatient unit, inpatient substance use treatment facility and detoxification services operated by Comprehensive Healthcare in Yakima County.  Comprehensive Healthcare has provided behavioral healthcare to Kittitas County residents since 1977.

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