Proposed mental health budget could mean cuts, opportunities for local programs
WILLMAR -- Standing at the podium in a room packed with local mental health professionals, Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Human Services, Anne Barry, said some mental health programs in Willmar could be closed or down-sized.
WILLMAR - Standing at the podium in a room packed with local mental health professionals, Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Human Services, Anne Barry, said some mental health programs in Willmar could be closed or down-sized.
But Barry also said $35 million in new money in Gov. Dayton’s proposed budget is dedicated for mental health in Minnesota that could strengthen and expand programs and create new ones here.
There’s a “lot of new resources and money” in Dayton’s budget, she said.
There are also a lot of unknowns and a lot of steps to take before a final outcome is reached.
“We are early in the legislative process,” Barry said Tuesday during the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners’ meeting.
The Commissioners had invited Barry to come to Willmar to provide details about Dayton’s budget, which includes closing the Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Services - which is the only state operated hospital of this type - and reducing the Community Addiction Recovery Enterprise program from 35 beds to 16 beds.
Both programs are located on the MinnWest Technology Campus in Willmar.
Commissioner Harlan Madsen said when programs close or are moved “people do not just disappear.”
He said when the state has gaps in mental health care services, counties typically end up providing and paying for services that are missing in the continuum of care where the state is supposed to be the safety net.
“What’s the big picture,” asked Madsen.
Barry said Dayton’s budget is based on the framework that the state shouldn’t provide services that private businesses can provide.
The CABHS program, which the state limits to just five youth with severe mental health issues and aggressive behavior, serves primarily metro clients, Barry said.
Parents asked to have services closer to home during this “critical phase” of their child’s life, Barry said. “We need to listen to them.”
Barry said the CABHS won’t be closed until contracts are in place with hospitals to provide services.
She said there’s also funding in Dayton’s budget for a new type of service, called Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities, that could encourage private providers to establish programs throughout the state to serve youth that need more than a community setting but don’t need hospitalization that CABHS provides.
Dr. Rick Lee, CEO of Woodlands Centers, said in a brief interview that he’s concerned that closing the CABHS facility would mean high-level mental health professionals would leave the area.
Recruiting mental health professionals outside the metro area is “very difficult,” he said.
Lee was encouraged, however, that if a Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility can be located here that mental health professionals would also be retained.
Downsizing the CARE program will allow the state to capture federal funding, which is restricted to 16-bed facilities for this type of mental health program, Barry said.
She said the staffing at the CARE facility would not likely decrease much from the current level.
Barry said the current 16-bed Intensive Residential Treatment facility in Willmar located near the YMCA would remain open and could benefit from additional funding in the Governor’s budget.
She also said more funding would be dedicated to strengthen and expand the infrastructure of existing mental health services, such as the mobile crisis units and mental health teams that travel to clients’ homes.
Barry also said expanding the competency restoration program, which is a short-term treatment for individuals who are incompetent to stand trial, could be located at the Kandiyohi County Jail.
DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson is scheduled to be in Willmar next month to tour the jail and other facilities.
County Board Chairman Jim Butterfield asked what the state and county need to do to be “walking in the same direction” to provide adequate services for mental health care.
Barry said the first step was inviting her to the county to discuss the issue so all options can be explored.
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