The attitude of the leaders of the MHI and CCUSO at Friday's quarterly meeting of the Citizen's Advisory Board at the Mental Health Institute was one of optimism, despite the institution's having gone through several months of less staff, fewer beds, and uncertainty about how much funding would be appropriated by the state.
Dr. Jason Smith, who is the Superintendent of both MHI and CCUSO, and Business Manager Chris Tofteberg, who serves as the Business Manger for both, stated that they have now know what their appropriation from the state will be, and they can now proceed with plans that their department heads have made. These include the hiring of some staff, including a full-time psychiatrist by the MHI and a full-time Electronics Supervisor who will supervise the use of the 120+ video cameras at CCUSO and MHI and other electronic needs. Additional staffing on wards is also on this year's agenda, as CCUSO just completed the renovation of the south wing of the building and will require additional staff. MHI also plans to add six child and adolescent beds, which will also require the hiring of more staff, and CCUSO will be hiring a Forensic Psychologist, who will also be providing services to MHI patients.
Dr. Smith also introduced Kisagwa Muggu, who began his duties as the Social Work Administrator of July 1. Muggu, a native of Africa, is in charge of the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program and the MHI's Social Work staff.
Lorri Winterhof, a social worker who works out of the MHI Admissions Department, explained her job duties to Board members and discussed Admission Trends. Winterhof said that in FY 2010, the MHI had 425 total admissions (240 adults and 185 children/adolescents) and in FY 2011 (July 1, 2010 - June 30, 2011), there were 429 total admissions (234 adults and 195 children/adolescents), a remarkably similar figure to the previous year, despite the reduction of six Children/Adolescent beds in January 2011. They have had to turn away 47 children/adolescents for treatment in the last six months, but Winterhof and Dr. Smith said that the admissions office has developed a very "fluid" system of referrals and that referrals who can't be admitted at the time are not "stuck" sitting on a waiting list somewhere , but rather, through communications with other institutions and agencies, alternative accommodations have been found for many prospective patients. Winterhof stated that in many cases if the person can just get into a hospital where he/she will be looked after and feel safe, delaying their admission to the MHI does not present the problems it otherwise could. The average length of stay for patients at the MHI in FY 2010 was 32 days (45 days for adults and 16 days for Children/Adolescents). In FY 2011, it was reduced to an average of 22 days (28 days for adults and 11 days for children/adolescents).
Winterhof said that occasionally situations arise where someone "walks in" to the MHI requesting admission, without proper pre-screening. She said that she and the admitting doctor meet with the person to assess the severity of their situation, and then either refer them to appropriate sources for further counseling if they feel that immediate hospitalization is not required, or contact the appropriate resources to pre-screen the person for admission. Unfortunately, receiving out-patient psychiatric help in Northwest Iowa continues to be a problem, due to a lack of funding and/or staffing at other agencies.
Dr. Michael Ryan presented an update on assessment and treatment at the CCUSO Unit, and said that their current census is 84 patients. He stated that the unit now has a full complement of staffing and that should enable them to provide better services. Dr. Ryan also said that they have been able to arrange several outstanding training sessions recently. One such session, "Sharing Emotional Development" was held at the MHI on June 23, and there was a significant turnout of attendees from outside the MHI and CCUSO. The program was put on by the Iowa Program Assistance Team (I-PART) out of Woodward, Iowa, and is described as "an application of radical behaviorism to the behavior of Individuals who are intellectually delayed and sexually offend others." A follow-up session has been scheduled for September 15, 2011, and it is hoped that most of those who attended the initial session in June will be able to return.
Other training sessions - in a variety of topics - are in the process of being set up, including one on 'Cyberbullying' on September 28.
The meeting concluded with a tour of the newly-constructed CCUSO units.