The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

December 13, 2012

READER'S LETTER: Cuts would hurt area

Letter to the Editor

CLINTON — I am writing in response to the articles in the Clinton Herald regarding the cuts in funding to mental health services in Clinton County.

As I understand the cuts to Clinton County for mental health services are scheduled to be approximately $1 million with cuts to Bridgeview being $465,000 starting Oct. 1.

This money is granted by the Board of Supervisors to Bridgeview to provide a number of services to  all citizens of Clinton County but many to those who have no income or are underinsured or are not covered by insurance companies.

I would like to inform the citizens of Clinton County what some of those services include. Any face to face services with a psychiatrist, nurse practitioner or therapist are usually paid by insurance companies if that person has insurance. More and more people are without any issuances at all.

This money would provide mental health services for those without insurance. As a mental health center we also provide many educational programs for the public which include “Love and Logic” which is a parenting education program.

Many of those in attendance are referred by DHS to assist families who are having difficulties. Anger management classes, domestic violence counseling and assistance, couples coaching for those who are getting married or having some marital difficulties teen screen which is a program to detect depression and hopefully prevent suicide attempts in teenagers, and general educational programs regarding mental health issues are provided by the money from this money.

These programs have been cut from the Bridgeview budget and are no longer available. We also provide emergency services 24 hours a day either in person or by phone. Anyone can call or come in to the center and someone is available to speak with them.

Emergency phone calls to the center are not covered by insurance and therefore the money fro the county helped to pay for that service. That service is no longer being funded. Due to regulations of Title XIX Medicare and many insurance companies medications that are ordered by the medical staff need to have authorization from the insurance company prior to being filled by the pharmacy.

This requires a great deal of paperwork to be done and going through previous records to document what medications have been tried and failed for a particular client. We also have a program for those persons who have no insurance to get assistance from the pharmaceutical company for their medications and this also involves paperwork and time to get sufficient information to help sompne get medications prescribed.

Many phone calls are made to the agency because someone is having trouble with their medications, need refills or have other questions about medicines. Due to a lack of psychiatric providers they are not able to take all of those calls.

The calls are triaged, medical staff consulted and problems resolved through the nursing staff. Also there is a great deal of paperwork involved in helping clients access other supportive services to assist them in living within the community or obtaining social security disability. 

This involves coordination and communication with other agencies. Nursing staff hours have been cut due to the decreased in county funding to cover these services. Therefore these services are not able to be provided within a timely manner because staff is not available to get the work done.

These are just a few of the services that are supported by the monies in the block grant from the county on a yearly basis. Without the money to support these services they will no longer be available or will not be available in a timely manner. The legislators tell us that all services will be available in our region but people may have to travel to Davenport or Muscatine to obtain these services.

Please understand that many of the clients served at Bridgeview do not have transportation. The cost of providing transportation outside of the city would be overwhelming.

Please contact your legislators and advise them of the loss of service to the mentally ill that is happening in Clinton County.

Jackie Kramer, RN,

Bridgeview Mental Health Center