A special meeting occurred Wednesday afternoon for the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors. The short agenda was centered on the conversation and action for the Mid-Iowa Behavioral Health Region discussion.
On Monday’s meeting, the Board of Supervisors discussed and outlined a potential plan regarding what needs to be done to get right with the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS), who stated that Mahaska and Marion County cannot continue to operate as a two-county region in mental health.
Jan LeBahn, who is the Mahaska Health Partnership Behavioral Health Director, opened the public comments portion of the meeting. She stated she had talked with Jay Christensen, CEO of MHP. They came up with the idea that it would be best to join the South Central Behavioral Health Region, which consists of Wapello, Davis, and Appanoose Counties. The thought behind that was that it was a much smaller region than the ten-county Central Iowa Community Services (CICS) Region, which is located to the north. This would give Mahaska County more of a voice in what policies are decided.
Following the public comments, Julie Bak joined the Board and began the discussion. In the most recent letter from DHS, it was made clear that in all likelihood there would be no chance of Mahaska and Marion Counties continuing to function as a two-county region.
Following through with his initial stance, Chair Mark Doland drew up an appeal letter in case that is the way the Board decided to go.
On Monday’s meeting, it was made clear that both Vice-Chair Willie VanWeelden and Supervisor Mike VanderMolen favored moving into a new region. On Wednesday, they both stayed true to that stance, but disagreed on which region to go to.
VanWeelden believed the people within the health field knew what they were talking about, and thinks it makes more sense to join with Wapello, Davis, and Appanoose Counties to the south. VanderMolen liked the idea of rejoining with former Mid-Iowa members Poweshiek and Jasper Counties in the CICS.
Bak suggested that there should be a meeting with a representative from both groups to the Board before a decision is made. Doland reminded the Board that a plan needed to be outlined by August 1st according to the DHS. That plan required a move settled by November 1st of this year. Both of these particular groups that were in consideration would not officially have new members join them until the start of the fiscal year in July.
This matter concerned Doland with how the county would be able to fulfill the requirements prior to the given deadline.
VanWeelden said there needs to be the decision to appeal or not to appeal first. He says the point is moot because the DHS also would hear the appeal after they issued the initial decision. VanderMolen said he wanted no appeal and to go north,
VanWeelden said he wanted no appeal and to go south, and Doland said he wanted to appeal. If there was no appeal, Doland said going south made the most sense. At this point, VanderMolen stated he felt uncomfortable with Bak and Doland heading the effort for Mahaska County, because there have now been potentially two failed regions under their watch. Poweshiek and Jasper left what was a four-county Mid-Iowa Behavioral Health Region, and then the two-county region left over has failed. Doland said they complied with everything the state gave them, but apparently it wasn’t enough to warrant continuing the two-county region in the eyes of DHS.
VanderMolen then stated he’d rather appeal than join with the south region, and made a motion to go through with an appeal. Doland seconded that motion. VanWeelden claimed it would be a waste of time. Doland said there may be a need to amend the motion to start looking for a potential group to join during the appeal process.
That idea was not seconded by anyone, as both VanWeelden and VanderMolen believed they should be all-in on the appeal if that is the route they are going. Following that discussion, the Board of Supervisors voted 2-1 in favor of an appeal to attempt to keep the Mid-Iowa Behavioral Health Region as is along with Marion County.
The next scheduled meeting of the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors is August 3rd at 9 AM at the Mahaska County Courthouse on the square in Oskaloosa.