Hillcrest Family Services to close Monticello center

Two programs, both running at deficits for nearly a year, will be discontinued by the end of 2019. The Sub-acute Services Program, located in Dubuque, will cease operations in late- December. The Jones County Mental Health Center, located in Monticello (inside John McDonald Hospital at 818 W. First St. Ste. 100) will also close sometime in mid-to late-December. 

Francie Tuescher, interim president and CEO at Hillcrest Family Services, said the decision to close the two programs was difficult, but not a surprise to most involved with the programs. 

“We have run these programs at a deficit for many months, in the hopes that our funding sources would see the benefit in these services,” said Tuescher. 

“With continued constricted reimbursements and lack of support from the state level, we cannot continue to operate the Sub-acute program,” continued Tuescher. “The Sub-acute Program provides an intensive in-patient experience to individuals with brain health illnesses. These services are an intermediary measure to keep patients from seeking expensive emergency room treatment or placement into jail or hospitalization. We will continue to provide support to clients through our mobile crisis outreach, therapy and medication management, as well as other services at our Dubuque and satellite locations. 

“We estimate that the closure will affect up to 15 employees in Dubuque. The Jones County center closure is based on low utilization. Fortunately, patients there can access services at other providers in the Monticello area. But the change will affect up to two employees in Monticello. The Jones County Mental Health Center provides a range of mental services to residents of Jones County, including therapy and medication management. 

“For both programs, we are doing what we can to find our employees comparable positions either within the Hillcrest organization, or by helping them network with other area providers,” concluded Tuescher. 

Hillcrest Board of Directors chairperson, Ali Fuller, notes that the board has struggled with the decision for many months, and made the choice to close the programs at the end of the calendar year to focus on other programming that is better-utilized and better-funded. 

“We know that when we make fiscal decisions, we are also making decisions that impact people’s lives,” stated Fuller. “Our board was unified in making these closure decisions after reviewing months of budget data and watching the downward trend in the utilization of these programs. 

“We, like other mental healthcare organizations in the state, are increasingly frustrated at the lack of funding from the state level,” Fuller continued. “It leaves us very little choice but to cut programming that just cannot sustain itself.”

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