Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

March 20, 2013

Three counties intend to form mental health/disability services region

CINDY TOOPES
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — Three counties have approved a letter of intent to form a mental health/disability services region in southeast Iowa.

The county supervisors in Wapello, Davis and Appanoose counties have notified the Iowa Department of Human Services of their intent to form a mental health/disability services region.

Jennifer Vitko, the current mental health administrator, attended the Wapello County Supervisors meeting Tuesday morning and said she has designed a mental health administrative structure. She also noted this structure will have a governing board of regional administration that will include a chief officer and will be shared by the three counties.

Also, there will be case workers for clients with no Medicare and a regional administration that would include a social worker budget, too. Vitko plans to bill for time with the other counties.

After the meeting, Siegel said the state officials wanted more information about a mental health region.

"That's what was in the letter," Siegel said.

Some of the demonstrated reasons for these counties meeting the requirements outlined in Iowa Senate File 2315 are:

* The regions have the capacity to provide the required core services and perform required functions, such as treatment services, support for community living, basic crisis response, supported employment, and recovery-oriented service.

* The region has a contract with at least one community mental health center or federally qualified health center that provides psychiatric and outpatient mental health services in the region or written intent from the community mental health center or federally qualified health center to enter into a contract. Those facilities include Southern  Iowa Mental Health Center, River Hills Community Health Center, Federally Qualified Health Center, and Community Mental Health Center.

* The region has a contract with an inpatient psychiatric unit or a state mental health institute located in or within reasonable proximity to the region that has the capacity to provide inpatient services to the region or written intent from the hospital or state mental health institute to enter into a contract.