Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Iowa's Gov Branstad Pushing to Close the Mental Health Institutes in Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant

The news broke today that Governor Terry Branstad proposed $0 budgets for the Mental Health Institutes in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant, IA:
Yesterday in his proposed budget, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad did not allow for dollars to be spent in fiscal year 2016 for either facility... Iowa Department of Human Services Public Information Officer Amy McCoy.. says the meetings held in both Clarinda and Mount Pleasant were very difficult for all involved. However, she says the Governor believes there is a better way to deliver mental health service to Iowans.
Currently there are 24 patients in Clarinda served by 76 full-time employees. McCoy says the current estimated funding to operate in fiscal year 2016 is $8.6 million.
Meanwhile in Mount Pleasant, McCoy says there are currently 47 patients being treated by 83 full-time employees at an estimated funding cost of $6.9 million.
Clarinda MHI provides acute psychiatric treatment for adults with extreme mental health symptoms in the southwest corner of Iowa, as well as long-term treatment for geriatric patients with chronic psychiatric and behavioral problems. Mount Pleasant MHI provides acute psychiatric treatment for adults with extreme mental health symptoms in the southeast corner of Iowa, as well as dual diagnosis treatment program for those struggling with severe mental health and substance abuse needs.

People are referred to MHIs when community treatment options have failed and after they've experienced repeated hospitalizations elsewhere. There are already long wait lists for these programs. What do you think will happen when we eliminate two more highly specialized treatment options?

AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan issued a statement about Branstad's recommendation to close the Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant MHIs:
“The well-being of the clients who rely on DHS facilities must come first in any decision about those facilities’ future.

“This decision by the Branstad Administration to propose closing these facilities has taken almost everyone by surprise, including legislators. Before releasing this recommendation as part of the budget, Governor Branstad does not appear to have sought the opinion of the families of the clients of these two facilities, legislators, community leaders, employees, or AFSCME. The Iowa Department of Human Services even requested funds to operate these facilities; however, the Governor removed those funds from his budget.

“The fact that this proposal was quietly tucked into a large budget book without explanation and not even mentioned by the Governor in his Condition of the State speech is yet another failure of the Governor to live up to his promises of a transparent and open government.

“Such a drastic recommendation that will impact the care of some of the most vulnerable Iowans should have not been reached behind closed doors. This sort of secretive government is wrong and it is not good for Iowans, especially those who will be affected by this decision.

The recommendation already appears to be impacting care. Rep. Dave Heaton said that he was told by the Administration that the facilities have stopped accepting new patients and filling job vacancies. These sort of unilateral moves toward closure without consulting the legislature is inappropriate.

“AFSCME Iowa Council 61 believes the future of these facilities should be decided by the Legislature after extensive opportunities for input by all. The vulnerable Iowans who rely on these facilities deserve nothing less.”
You can contact Gov. Branstad's office to communicate your displeasure with this decision at this link or you can contact him by phone at 515-281-5211. You can also contact your legislator by following this link. Please remember to be polite and constructive with your feedback.


Anonymous said...

Of course Branstad won't pay attention to anything that stands in his way. He has no regard for struggling people and their families. It is also likely illegal to close 2 of 4 MHIs.

But this is the Governor Iowa elected. Strip out mental health. Gut the schools. Enhance his cronies. Terrible record he is biulding.

Jon said...

I would continue contacting your legislators, as well as people within the DHS. This isn't a popular decision and every citizen who contacts them to constructively express concerns and disagreement helps.