Gov. Terry Branstad says Iowa has a system of “ancient” mental health institutions that should be redesigned to better deliver services more efficiently and effectively.
The governor said this week he would like in 2013 to have someone with “outside expertise” review the facilities at Cherokee, Clarinda, Independence and Mount Pleasant from the perspective of “taking a clean piece of paper and saying, ‘okay, how do we redesign the system that’s going to meet our needs going forward?’”
Branstad noted that some of the facilities on the four MHI campuses already have been converted to other uses or to deliver other services. He said the review also would be in cooperation with the affected communities to consider how best to use the facilities to meet their future needs as well.
“I think we need to look at all these institutions because we have these ancient institutions,” Branstad said during a fiscal 2014 budget discussion with state Department of Human Services (DHS) officials who oversee the institutions. “They once had thousands of people in them and now we have very few, and then we have to have all of these professionals to try to serve this population, so the cost per person is huge.”
Yearly costs for some psychiatric services top $400,000 per bed within the MHI system, according to DHS budget documents.
Read the story linked above for more details. What do you think? Should Iowa officials consider closing the state’s four mental health institutions? Is there a better way to deliver services to the state’s mental health patients?