When the Iowa legislature reconvenes it needs to take another look at the mental health situation in Iowa.
The downward spiral began in 2015 when Governor Branstad abruptly closed facilities in Mount Pleasant and Clarinda. The non-profit Treatment Advocacy Center recommends a minimum of 50 beds per 100,000 population, but the Governor’s actions reduced Iowa’s ratio to two beds per 100,000, putting Iowa dead last in the entire country. The state now has only two facilities, one in Cherokee and one in Independence. (Source: Iowa Mental Health on the net)
Mercy Hospital in Cedar Rapids has a “safe room” for mentally disturbed patients, or if that’s occupied they might have to be kept in the ER until a place is found for them. Mercy has only 20 beds, and “those are full 24/7.” Hospitals in Dubuque are not only short of beds, they also don’t have enough doctors who can prescribe psychiatric medicines. (Source: wwwwkcrg.com )
In 2016 Branstad closed down 15 psychiatric beds for children at…Independence. Branstand said no patients were being treated but that’s because this administration directed staff to stop admitting patients….” (Source: Iowastartingline.com) This action, like his first, was also taken when the legislature was not in session.
There are nightmare stories throughout Iowa about children with serious behavioral problems, domestic abuse victims, suicides, murderers, alcoholics, etc., – all falling through the cracks provided by our former governor and the legislators who refused to take a stand for the mentally ill and their families.
Please be informed and relentless in letting your representatives, senators, and Governor Reynolds know that the mental health crisis must be solved, not covered up.