Jones Co. case management loses employees

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Deb Schultz with Jones County Community Services informed the Jones County Supervisors during their March 14 meeting that two of the three case managers have been hired by AmeriHealth Caritas. The company is an MCO (managed care organization), also offering case management services throughout Iowa.

     Schultz said the unfortunate news means only one case manager remains, plus Lucia Herman, case management supervisor; and Schultz.

     “That leaves a heavy case load,” remarked Supervisor Ned Rohwedder.

     Schultz said she does not take on any cases, and Herman could if needed.

     “We’ll work it out,” she said.

     Schultz said some counties in Iowa are shutting down their case management/community services departments, but there is still plenty to take on in Jones County.

     With MCOs taking over case management, forcing counties to find ways to maintain their own employees, Schultz said this does not affect DHS (Department of Human Services) case managers.

     “MCOs won’t be taking clients from case management departments run by DHS,” she said. “But I’m not sure how that came to be.” Schultz said it’s unclear how the MCO presence does not affect DHS.

     “With one case manager left,” proposed Rohwedder, “when do we close our doors?”

     “I don’t want to jump off the cliff until we have to,” said Schultz. “We’ll keep the doors open until we have to (close).” She suggested possibly reducing the case management load as things progress.

     Schultz said Community Services does more than just case management. They still have clients they serve as part of the HIPP (Health Insurance Premium Payment) program.

     “Those clients will remain ours,” clarified Schultz, versus having them go to an MCO.

     Overall, Schultz said they would just really prefer to maintain a local presence with case management as long as possible.

     “We want to continue to provide this service for the people of Jones County,” she said.

     In the past, Jones County case managers took on clients locally and outside of the county. Schultz said one way to reduce the client load would be to just take on local clients.

     “We have a plan laid out,” she informed the supervisors. “But no clients will lose a case manager.

     In hiring a new Community Services Director, the board questioned whether a full-time position would even be needed with so much uncertainty now. Schultz said Community Services would still be responsible for General Assistance, HIPP, the MHDS region of nine counties, DECAT, CPPC, and Early Childhood Iowa and more.

     “We still have a regional social worker in our office,” she said. “We also work with substance abuse issues.”

     The county received eight applications for the director job. One was chosen for further consideration by the committee of Supervisors Jon Zirkelbach, Lloyd Eaken, and Schultz.

     “The rest didn’t meet the qualifications,” noted Zirkelbach.

     “Four were thrown out because they didn’t have complete applications,” said Schultz. She said some had no experience with the demographic Community Services serves.

     The board will meet in a closed session during the March 21 meeting to interview the candidate of choice.

     “We also need to discuss the future with this person in terms of Community Services,” added Zirkelbach.

     “The whole scope of this position could change,” warned Supervisor Joe Oswald.

     Schultz disagreed, saying she feels even without case management, the department would still require a full-time director.

     “We need to make sure our office is accessible all day,” she said. “We act as an access point for anyone trying to get mental health services.” Schultz said she gets a lot of phone calls from the public on a weekly basis.

     More than half of Schultz’s salary is reimbursed by the MHDS region. After July 1, only half of the new director’s salary would be covered by the region. Schultz said 10 percent would go to General Assistance, with the county covering roughly 40 percent or so.


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