Supervisors express concern for local mental health care

By Xiomara Levsen, The JOURNAL


A mental health meeting will be held Friday at the hospital.

Supervisor and board chairman Richard Young brought up some concerns he has about the lack of mental health care availability in the state.

The lack of beds available for inpatient mental health care is what really needs to be addressed, Young said.

?And then the hospital have to keep these people for a week at a time because there?s no beds available or they won?t take them,? Young said, ?and I contacted our senators and representatives and I don?t know.?

A lot of people don?t realize when someone is in the hospital for a week waiting for a bed in a mental health care facility, a jailer is usually with them.

?They?re taking a jailer away from the jail to sit in the ER,? Young said.

Washington County chief deputy Shawn Ellingson said a jailer was in the ER from last Friday afternoon until Monday with a patient.

?And then they released him to outpatient [care],? Ellingson added.

Supervisor Jack Seward Jr. said this person could have had charges pending.

?If it?s just somebody from the general community that just needs help they don?t have the option of being guarded by anybody from the sheriff?s office,? Seward added.

?Well, this person didn?t have any charges,? Ellingson replied, ?but he was court ordered [to get help], so that?s why we had to provide [a jailer].?

This just illustrates the point that the resources aren?t there in the mental health care system in Iowa, Seward said.

?The help that they need has to progress to the point of a court order action,? he added. ?It?s just crazy.?

?The system definitely needs help,? Young added, ?because when you have somebody in your ER for a week and still can?t find a bed there is a problem.?

Seward asked people to speak to their local representatives about the mental health care system in Iowa.

He reminded them the state elections are next year.

?Mental health has got to be one of the things that we need to provide,? Seward said.

Young said he just wanted everyone to be aware of how hard it is on the local budgets when a jailer has to sit with someone for a week in the ER to wait for a bed.

?That?s hard on all of our budgets,? Young added. ?Anyway, mental health ? if you see any of your representatives or state senators, address that with them, please, because I?ve been addressing it and I don?t know if they listen sometimes.?