Employees in the acute care portion of Timpanogos Mental Health Center say they were told in April they were in no danger of losing their jobs but now have received word their department will close by Aug. 1.

However, Dr. David Dangerfield, the center's interim director, said no promises were ever been made to the employees.The center is negotiating with a Utah County hospital for acute care, and officials hope as many Timpanogos employees as possible will be absorbed into that program when the contract is signed, said Dangerfield.

"Right now we are in the middle of contract negotiations," he said. "We don't have any firm numbers now on how many employees will be able to be absorbed."

In the first few days following a legislative audit outlining a $3.5

million misuse of funds by upper management at Timpanogos, an employee meeting took place, where workers say they were assured their jobs were secure.

"We were promised none of us needed to be concerned about our jobs," said Janet Coffey, a nurse in the inpatient department.

At an authority board meeting last week, a $7 million budget was approved, which will include replacing about one-third of the staff to make way for more professionals.

"It seems to all of us they (Timpanogos officials) have no concern about employees who have been here for many years," Coffey said.

Another employee, Zira Hansen, said the workers in her area knew nothing about their unit closing down or the possibility of losing their jobs until June 30, when they received a memo from Director of Adult Services Bobbie Pillar.

"We're very frustrated and aggravated about the way things have been handled," Hansen said. "We weren't informed we might lose our jobs. We were told our jobs would be secure and no one would lose their jobs."

Dangerfield said when the budget was formed, officials knew it would cause some kind of an uproar.

"Obviously people are going to be concerned and upset about this," he said. "At this point, we don't know how many are going to be affected. The most important thing is patient care. We need to worry about that as our first area of concern."