Possible ways to save money was the primary theme of the quarterly meeting of the MHI Citizens Advisory Board when the group met Friday at the facility. Director of Support Services Rick Forkenbrock spoke about Executive Order #41, a measure aimed at reducing energy costs at state facilities while stimulating the state‚s economy.
The five mandates for state facilities are 1) they must reduce energy costs by at least 15 per cent by 2010; 2) do cost analysis on all equipment purchases; 3) must use alternative fuel sources to provide at least 10 per cent of their electric power; 4) must use E-85 ethanol to fuel all state vehicles by 2009; and 5) should be using 20 per cent soy diesel by the year 2010.
Forkenbrock and Maintenance Supervisor Mike Thompson spoke about MHI's plans to meet or exceed these requirements, and felt the facility should be able to do so. Forkenbrock said that the heating bill last month for the MHI /CCUSO building was in excess of $77,000, and he was sure that they could cut those cost substantially by going to an alternative source of fuel.
The source about which they are most excited is burning solid waste (e.g., material from the landfill). Engineers have developed a pellet which can be burned to provide fuel much more efficiently than natural gas, and also burns well in conjunction with wood or corn. MHI is awaiting the results of a burn test being conducted, but if these tests show that the pellets are indeed a much better fuel source, they will pursue purchasing and installing a boiler which burns these pellets.
Forkenbrock also serves on a Governor's Food Group and said that they have discovered that 80 per cent of the meat being purchased by state institutions is being purchased from out-of-state sources, primarily in Florida and California.
The group is trying to convince the governor that, though the other states are charging a little less than Iowa for their meat, the net cost of purchasing from Iowa producers would be lower and, of course, beneficial to the state as it would keep the money in Iowa, providing income for Iowans.
An upcoming two-day training was announced, and brochures distributed to attendees. The title of the meeting is "Spirituality's Role in Mental Health Recovery", and it is being sponsored by several organizations, both health care and ministerial. The first day's meeting will be at the Hope Reformed Church in Spencer from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on April 26. There will also be a public forum that evening, from 6:30-8 p.m. (no registration required).
The second day of the meeting, with different topics relating to the same theme, will be held at the Forum at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake from 9 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. on April 27. Any questions about the program content, cost, registration and educational credits available should be directed to 712-233-7530 (Sioux City Diocese).
Dr. Tom Deiker, MHI Superintendent, announced that the Department of Human Services plans to ask the legislature for funding to provide practical experience in psychiatry for Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner students at the state's MHIs. The students' school would continue to provide the classroom training .
Mae Hingtgen, the Cherokee County Central Points Coordinator, presented the MH/MR/DD/BI Commission's proposals to the state legislature for inclusion into the state's Mental Health Plan.
The commission's proposals aimed to transform the system of care for adults with disabilities to one that is consumer - and family -driven; improve the quality of service and produce more positive results, including employment, interpersonal relationships, and community participation; and reduce system disparities.
Hingtgen said the proposals have not yet been assigned a file number in the legislature , nor been assigned to a committee. Hingtgen said that she personally is disappointed with the proposal, feeling that some important items were not even addressed.
The meeting concluded with a brief discussion of possible expansion of the number of RCF/PMI beds at the MHI.
The Pride Group (formerly known as Plymouth Life, Inc.) has been using one of the wards at MHI to provide residential care to a small group of Chronically Mentally Ill clients for several years, and currently have five residents there. They feel that there is the potential to provide services to at least twice that many clients, and they have looked for alternative locations at the MHI, because they would need more room than they currently have. Pride Group has been thinking about purchasing the Donohoe Building (which most recently housed a local daycare) from the state.
Architects looked at the building a few days ago, and the Pride Group is continuing to pursue the matter. If such a move does come to fruition, it would open up the ward (N3) currently used by the Pride Group for use by MHI, or possibly even another interested program, if their services are in line with the MHI mission.
That particular ward was remodeled before the Pride Group began to use it, and would not require much work to make it acceptable for use by another entity.