A task force was created in the last Iowa legislative session to study a recommendation of the Department of Human Services to possibly close one of the state's four Mental Health Institutes.
The four institutes include Cherokee, Clarinda, Independence, and Mount Pleasant.
That task force will be in Cherokee Tuesday, Sept. 15 for a site visit, which includes a facility tour, facility presentation and discussion of programs and services, economic impact discussion, and community input.
Area citizens are encouraged to attend the task force visit to show support for the work and services provided by the Cherokee Mental Health Institute and the devastating economic impact closing the local facility would have on all of Northwest Iowa.The taskforce is expected to arrive in Cherokee at about 10 a.m., and the public input session is expected to take place at about 3 p.m.
In addition, Cherokee MHI Superintendent Dr. Daniel Gillette is hosting the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce in the J May Room at the MHI at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 10, and the public is also invited.If you care to attend, please RSVP to Rhonda Saxen at 712-225-6918. The event will focus on discussing the task force and related issues, and will also include a brief tour of the facility.
In what has been labeled a budget-cutting measure, House File 811 calls for the proposal of closing one state mental health institute and consolidating the services provided at the other state mental health institutes.
The proposal shall provide for maintaining the existing levels of beds and services after the consolidation. The proposal shall be developed in coordination with the task force review of the four institutes. A report would then be filed with the DHS on or before Dec. 15, 2009.
According to Gillette, closing one MHI would obviously strengthen the remaining three institutes in Iowa by consolidating goods and services; however, the economic impact on the affected community would be devastating.
Gillette, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, said the Cherokee facility has the lowest per-diem costs of the four State institutes, and provides much-needed services to nearly half of Iowa's 99 counties. Gillette has figures, charts, and graphs comparing the four state institutes to verify the meaningful statistics that reveal the Cherokee institute's efficiency, clinical services strengths and expertise.
All four Iowa MHIs were built between 1861 and 1902, with Cherokee opening in 1902 and admitting 1,022 patients the first year. The four institutes are operated by the DHS, under the directorship of Charles J. Krogmeier and under the leadership of Sally Titus, Deputy Director for Field Operations.
The Cherokee facility - Iowa's largest with 637,038 square footage of buildings and structures - providesboth inpatient and outpatient psychiatric services for adults, children, and adolescents. Outpatient services include psychiatric diagnosis, medication management, individual therapy, and family therapy.
The Cherokee MHI serves adults from 41 counties in Northwest Iowa, and children and adolescents from 55 counties. Clinical staff assistance is available around the clock seven days a week. According to Gillette, about 90 percent of the Cherokee patients are sent to the MHI via court order.
The Cherokee MHI also leases space to other organizations who provide a variety of clinical and family services, including Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services, the Pride Group, Jackson Recovery Center, Juvenile Court Services, DHS Targeted Case Management Offices, Youth Emergency Services, Northwest Community Empowerment, and the Cherokee County Board of Supervisors.
The Cherokee MHI Campus also houses Iowa's Civil Commitment Unit for Sex Offenders (CCUSO). Those inmates are convicted sex offenders who have served their prison sentences and are still classified as a high risk to re-offend.