Dr. Daniel Gillette, who has been employed as a psychiatrist at the Cherokee Mental Health Institute for close to a decade - serving as either Acting Superintendent or Superintendent for close to seven years - has resigned his position with the State of Iowa.
Gillette made the announcement at Friday's meeting of the Citizens' Advisory Board, and said his last day on the job will be November 30. It is Gillette's hope that his leaving MHI will expedite the Department of Human Services hiring more psychiatrists at Cherokee.
Dr. Charles Murphy recently retired at MHI, leaving only Dr. Gillette and Dr. Phillip Muller, who is contracted on a part-time basis, as certified psychiatric staff members. Dr. Gillette said that a couple of psychiatrists have been interviewed at this point.
Gillette said that he doesn't have any plans for after Nov. 30, but said that he will likely return to private practice in Sioux City.
Smith said that he thinks MHI has a wonderful staff and he is confident that MHI will continue to provide quality care and hopefully be able to recruit more quality staff and trainees, noting that the funding is still there for the Physicians Assistant Training program. Smith stated that, in his opinion,"further reductions (in staffing) don't make any sense."
Gillette expressed the hope that state legislators will give serious consideration to providing more funding assistance for residential treatment facilities, an important step for some patients in transitioning back into their communities. Gillette noted that 51% of U.S. Health Care costs in 1949 were for mental health, and that now that figure was down to 13% last year.
One of the highlights for the Cherokee MHI in recent years has been the 98.55% reduction (between 1999 and 2009) of the amount of time that patients spent in restraint or seclusion, an achievement for which the Cherokee MHI received national recognition.
In other business at the C.A.B. meeting, Plant Operations Manager Jim Stowater reported on the continued expansion of the CCUSO facilities. In addition to the unit now having two units on the south side of the Main Building at MHI, the Ginzberg Building, currently occupied by Jackson Recovery Centers, will become the third CCUSO unit, to be occupied by residents who are in the transitional phase of the program.
Jackson Recovery has been looking for a new facility in which they can consolidate all of their services, which are currently scattered throughout Northwest Iowa.
Stowater also gave an update on the pellet-burning burner project, in response to a question from a C.A.B. member. Stowater noted that, though things were in place to order and install that equipment at one point, basically the Department of Natural Resources objected, saying it was against the law to burn garbage. MHI presented the argument that the pellets are not really garbage anymore after they have been "pelletized," but the project appears to be at a standstill at this time, though he stated that all tests they have done certainly indicated that this system would be more efficient than the current system and produce fewer emissions.
Tofteberg stated that his main focus in the two months he's been at MHI, has been preparing for the upcoming survey by the JCAHO, which MHI undergoes voluntarily every three years to receive accreditation. The survey date is unannounced, but MHI staff feel that it could happen any time now, so they are diligently making sure that everything is in compliance with standards.
Tofteberg also said that the transition to the Avatar Hospital Management System has now incorporated billing, and stated that he and IT Director Al Stange are working on getting as much of the hospital technology as possible to be wireless.
Dr, Phillip Muller also introduced himself to the Board. Dr. Muller, a native of Remsen, has been in private psychiatric practice in Sioux City for several years, and since May of this year, he has been coming to the MHI four days a week, contracting to provide psychiatric services, as well as supervising the Physician Assistant Program students.
The Citizens Advisory Board's next quarterly meeting will be in January, 2011.