DES MOINES -- Final word was received Thursday from Governor Terry Branstad's staff that the proposed Department of Human Services budget cuts to the Cherokee Mental Health Institute and other Iowa MHIs would not be instituted.
Senator Bill Anderson (R-Pierson) offered the following response: "Receiving final word that the Cherokee Mental Health Institute won't need to make drastic cuts in bed numbers, services and staff is welcome news.
"The facility's financing will remain at its current level through this budget year. I know many area families, patients and caretakers involved with Iowa Mental Health Institutes are also happy with this reassurance."
A major player in the Iowa DHS system, the Cherokee MHI currently serves a 31-bed adult psychiatric program, and a 12-bed children and adolescent program. Cherokee serves a 41-county catchment area throughout Northwest Iowa for adults, and a 56-county catchment area in Western Iowa for children and adolescents.
The proposed cuts were in response to an additional $27.3 million reduction in DHS spending needed to meet savings set by former Governor Chet Culver and the Legislature for the current budget year that ends June 30.
For Cherokee MHI, that translated into a proposed $2.4 million cut by the end of the fiscal year which was being planned for. However, the newly proposed cuts totaled an additional $840,000 for the Cherokee Institution, dealing an additional blow termed "devastating" by Cherokee MHI Superintendent Dr. Jason Smith.
The Cherokee MHI employs 157 full- and part-time workers. The proposal would have cut 12 of the current 25 adult psychiatric beds at Cherokee, and 29 positions, but would have made no change to to the total of 12 beds for children and adolescents.