Mental health workers talk regionalization

A law passed by state legislators has moved the approach to serving mental health disability clients from the counties to the region.

Area mental health professionals talked about the changes as a result of this redesign during a meeting at the Marshalltown Public Library Thursday.

Jill Eaton, community services director with Marshall County, led the discussion.

The county is now part of a nine-county region known as Central Iowa Community Services along with Franklin, Hamilton, Hardin, Story, Boone, Madison, Jasper and Warren counties.

Though mental health patients are still primarily treated locally, this region allows for the pooling of money and sharing of other resources. This method eliminates risk for individual counties.

“We had a lot of the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ with the past funding formula,” Eaton said. “We’re spreading the risk through the region. There’s a lot of good things that it would be hard for one county to do that collectively we can do.”

There is a total population of 290,000 people in the region, which fits what legislators were looking to achieve.

“We feel pretty comfortable with our counties and our population,” Eaton said.

The partnership in this region launched this past summer, which was a year ahead of the deadline.

“There’s been a lot of meetings and we’re getting a lot of things done,” Eaton said.

The local advisory board approved two community members to be on the advisory board of the region at the meting Thursday. Al Fagerlund was appointed to the advisory board as a parent and Ann Vance, of CIRSI, was appointed as a professional.