O'Brien County's Bell-Times-Courier -

Supervisors Continue Mental Health Discussion

Corrected version


October 17, 2019

By Mari Radtke

On October 8 the O'Brien County Supervisors heard pros and cons to membership of 2 different mental health regions in Iowa. O'Brien is currently a member of Northwest Iowa Care Connections. Other member counties are Clay, Dickinson, Osceola and Palo Alto. Discussion began on October 8 about whether or not to leave Care Connections and join Sioux Rivers Mental Health Region. Current membership of that region is Sioux, Plymouth and Lyon counties.

Services were compared, showing that the services available to adult citizens within the member counties of the 2 regions are very similar. Providers of services are most often the same providers. Per capita tax levies maximum are within cents of each other.

On October 15 the discussion with comparisons continued. A message from Harold Postma of rural Sheldon started the conversation toward what broke the original Sioux Rivers Mental Health Region apart. He is not in support of Sioux Rivers membership. He claims that the Sioux Rivers CEO, Shane Walters was a provided in excess of legal maximums, as shown by a series of audits, according to Postma. He also noted the expense to Woodbury County to "extract themselves from the quagmire of Sioux Rivers." He also pointed out that O'Brien County would no longer serve as fiscal agent to its region and lose the $6000 per year that job brings. Sioux County would be the fiscal agent. He makes a further recommendation to not join Sioux Rivers Mental Health region.

O'Brien County Sheriff, Allen Schuknecht, mentioned to County Auditor Barb Rohwer that he wants to come October 22 to speak with the board about transportation billing with Sioux Rivers. Sioux Rivers either pays mileage or they pay expenses. It does not reimburse both. According to Sherri Bootsma, she spoke with Walters about that and his response was it could be discussed; that [the reimbursement rate] does not need to be a deal breaker. Law enforcement are the normal method of transportation for patients to and from in-patient or specialty facilities across Iowa and parts of Nebraska and South Dakota. Schuknecht is checking with how other counties reimburse the cost. The statute for reimbursement is unclear. Rachel Becker, O'Brien County Attorney will be asked for her interpretation of the statute, 331.655(j).

The discussion will be continued on October 22 with more information of the transportation costs presented. There is no meeting on October 29.


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