Mental health services offered meet state standards

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     When it comes to state required mental health services for each region in Iowa, the East Central Region, of which Jones County is a member of, is ahead of the game.

     During the June 12 Jones County Board of Supervisors meeting, Mechelle Dhondt, regional director, gave the board an update on the happenings concerning the mental health region.

     Dhondt said there have been some complaints at the regional board meetings across the state that the regions should be spending their funds on more services.

     “We provide all of the services the state requires us to have,” she said of the ECR. “We’re ahead on most regulations on the services we have.”

     Some of the new projects seen throughout the region include: telehealth in the jails, telehealth in hospitals, a new Hillcrest Family Services office in Monticello, peer support help, transportation services, and a crisis center. Telehealth is up and running inside the Jones County Jail, as well as within Jones Regional Medical Center. JETS serves a large population of the citizens of Jones County.

     Dhondt said the peer support services are a huge plus, with recovered mental health patients being of help to those currently going through the same issues.

     The region has also brought in additional training opportunities for providers, offering training across the nine-county region.

     “We offer training at least once a month,” said Dhondt.

     In an effort to reduce the numbers inside residential care facilities (RCF), Dhondt said social workers visited each facility in the region.

     “There are a lot of people who need that level of care for short periods of time,” she said.

     Dhondt explained that there is a cost-savings to downsizing the RCFs.

     “The majority of beds are not filled by regional clients,” she said. “We don’t have enough clients.”

     With new legislation coming down the pipe, Dhondt said the state might look to implement access centers for mental health/disability services.

     “The law enforcement got behind this bill big time because they spend a lot of time at the hospitals and want something to be done,” said Dhondt.

     The idea behind an access center is to divert patients away from the emergency room, unless it is an emergency situation. The centers would serve as walk-in clinic, but provide a higher level or medical care.

In other county business:

     • The board approved an appropriations resolution to increase the departmental appropriation for the JETS Facility project by $25,898, and decrease the departmental appropriations for Decat, General Services, and Capital Projects.

     • The board authorized and approved a loan agreement with Citizens Bank in Anamosa for a single-day loan in the amount of $383,021. The county will not incur and interest with the loan.

     • Michele Lubben, Land Use, informed the board that Planning and Zoning Commission was meeting that evening to discuss the re-zoning of parcels owned by Camp Courageous.

     Following the meeting, Lubben shared with the Express that the P&Z recommended re-zoning to the board of supervisors for two of the five parcels (base camp and the Durgin Pavilion) from Agriculture to C2-Highway Commercial. Three other parcels will remain Ag. The recommended approval comes with a conditional zoning agreement.

     • While the supervisors spoke with Jail Administrator Mike Elkin and Chief Deputy Sheriff Jeff Swisher regarding Elkin’s employee comp time balance, both employees informed the board that they plan to retire soon.

     With paid-time-off, Elkin said he plans to take what’s due at the end of the year, leaving in mid-February. Elkin will have been with the county for 32 years. Swisher said he has plans to retire next June, after 22 years.

     • County Engineer Derek Snead, the supervisors, and Doug Edel, who serves on the Anamosa Chamber Board, visited about the July bike ride event across Jones County. The main concern dealt with riders traveling on gravel roads. However, Edel said only those who are experienced riders will be on the gravel. He expects most novice riders will be on paved routes.

     As of June 12, there were 20 registered riders. He said the chamber hopes for at least 100.

     “We hope it becomes an annual event,” Edel said.

     Edel said the registration forms stated that the various routes would be unsupported by law enforcement/support team members, and there will not be traffic control devices. “The riders are responsible for themselves,” he said. “Safety is in the forefront.”

     • The board approved the purchase of a new motor grader from Altorfer, Inc. for $304,141, without a trade-in, for Secondary Roads. Snead secured the same bid this time out from a letting in March.

     The other bid was from John Deere for $235,000, which included a $70,000 trade-in ($305,500, original bid).

     Snead said they are in desperate need for replacing a motor grader on its last leg.

     • Two neighbors on Lead Mine Road (Mike Courtney and Jim Carlson) were in attendance at the board meeting to discuss a dispute regarding a flap gate that Carlson installed on his pipe. Carlson said the flap was installed to divert floodwaters away from his crops.

     Courtney claimed Carlson did not seek permission from the county/county engineer, nor the DNR.

     Snead said he contacted the DNR, and this area does not fall under their jurisdiction. Carlson has been allowed to install the flap for a couple decades now, and does not alter the floodwater in any way to cause it to backup onto Courtney’s property.

     “We allow a lot of landowners to work within our right of way,” said Snead.

     • The board approved a contract with Shive-Hattery for architecture and engineering services for various county facility-related projects.



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