MHI proposal is a bad idea

Monday, January 19, 2015

A proposal by Gov. Terry Branstad to close two of the state's four mental health institutes is a bad idea.

Although we are relieved that the two institutions mentioned do not include Cherokee, that doesn't change our view that the move to consolidate acute mental health care at two locations that are far away from a large segment of the population.

The development of effective medication and the increase of community based treatment have reduced the role of the mental health institutions, changing from long-term residential facilities to acute care institutions.

Adjustments have been made, particualrly in Cherokee, where other uses of the MHI campus have helped in operating efficiencies. Efficiency in government operations is an important objective but it should not override the objective in efficiency in how society in general operates.

If citizens have to travel long distances for services, or they lose contact with family and friends during difficult times in their lives, that does not necessarily improve the way the services operate.

There is also a regional concern those in the Cherokee region should continue to have.

The proposal is to close the institutes in Clarinda in Southwest Iowa and Mount Pleasant in Southeast Iowa. Eventually, the question will arise as to why only the Northern Iowa facilities in Cherokee and Independence operate.

Why not consolidate all services in central Iowa?

Some politicians in Des Moines seem to have that as a long-term objective for many services.