Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 22, 2014

County wants its own mental health region

By DIANE VANCE | Jul 16, 2013

Jefferson County Board of Supervisors chairman Lee Dimmitt and Sandy Stever, Central Point of Coordination administrator for the county’s mental health services, went to Des Moines July 9 and met with the legislative rules committee.

The two traveled to the state capitol to have a face-to-face discussion about Jefferson County’s application to remain a stand-alone region to provide mental health care.

The state has restructured the county-by-county system, asking neighboring counties to join together and form regions for mental health care services.

Only one county, Polk County, which contains the city of Des Moines, has been granted its request to remain as a one-county stand-alone region.

Supervisors and Stever would like Jefferson County to remain by itself. It had its initial application to be a stand-alone region rejected.

Dimmitt said he thought the meeting went well.

“I told them I didn’t want to join other counties and see our county’s taxpayer dollars going to subsidize another county’s services,” said Dimmitt.

“I also asked if Polk County met all the requirements, and was told it did not.”

He told the legislative rules committee more time is needed to re-submit the county’s application.

“Counties going together as regions have until June 30, 2014, to submit plans,” he said. “Counties wanting to stay a stand-alone county region had a July 1 deadline. Our application was in before the deadline. But to re-submit will take longer.”

Stever said Dimmitt presented the county’s case very well.

“Thanks for going to Des Moines,” said supervisor Dick Reed. “I was nearly ready to throw in the towel. But if you came away hopeful, maybe I can have faith it can still happen.”

Supervisors discussed the county’s mental health department paying Optimae for a training session about trauma-informed care.

Supervisor Becky Schmitz, a mental health care counselor, explained trauma-informed care is about taking care of clients without re-traumatizing.

“Using rape as an example, someone who’s been raped has to tell their story to law enforcement, medical staff and then if they come for counseling, again to mental health care providers,” she said. “Re-telling the story over and over can in itself re-traumatize someone. So this training is to help care providers and even law enforcement not to re-traumatize.”

The trauma-informed care training is an area Jefferson County fell short on its application to the state to operate as a stand-alone region for mental health care, said Stever.

The training would be open to Optimae staff, which contracts with the county to provide mental health care services. Training could be opened to others, including Jefferson County Health Center staff, EMTs and law enforcement personnel.

The $1,004 fee is to pay a certified trainer. Those attending the training will not pay a fee.

“We may have to rent a space to hold the training, depending on how many people would attend,” said Stever. “That would cost above the $1,004.”

Reed wanted to know if the initial $1,000 expenditure would increase each year and begin to cost more out of the county budget.

“This is a new thing,” he said. “If we hadn’t had it before, why do we need it now?”

Stever said it’s not adding any staff to payroll.

“This program is about progress,” she said. “The training has to be done by a certified trainer.”

Dimmitt said whether the county is granted stand-alone status or not, the training is now a state requirement.

“I knew when I opened this conversation, it wouldn’t be popular,” said Reed. “But if we never have the conversation about spending money, we’re not doing our job. I think we’re giving the training responsibility to the right company.”

Reed asked Cline about the bridge replacement project on Brookville Road and detours around the closed portion of Brookville Road.

“I just had a resident tell me about a lot of traffic traveling on 155th Street because of the detour,” said Reed. “He said 155th Street is really dusty. Can we dust-proof the detour?”

Last week, in anticipation of the road closure to replace an old, narrow, pony truss bridge with a double box culvert, Cline had said there would not be a designated detour. Drivers could take whichever detour they chose.

“We had a pre-construction meeting last week with the contractor and department of transportation, and it was decided to have a designated detour, but I’m not sure which street it is,” said Cline. “According to your one person, 155th is getting lots of traffic.”

After some discussion, people at the meeting agreed 155th would be the shortest detour because the alternate, Carnation Boulevard, takes most people too far out of the way.

“Once the route is determined, can it be dust-proofed?” said Dimmitt.

Reed said he felt dust-proofing a detour route should be part of the overall project costs.

“If it’s a really long road, we wouldn’t have to dust-proof the whole thing, but at least intersections, curves, corners and in front of residences,” he said. “It’s hard to see driving in a cloud of dust.”

Cline took notes and would get back to the supervisors about the designated detour route and dust proofing.

He told supervisors his department has been mowing, raking and striping.

“I met with FEMA twice, attended an engineers’ conference then went to another conference in Missouri about flood control,” he said.

In other business, supervisors approved:

• Safety policies for county employees as recommended by a committee and presented by Public Health Director Chris Estle.

“In passing this ordinance, it helps people be more aware,” said Reed. “People need to think about keeping themselves and co-workers out of harm’s way.”

• A transfer of funds on a monthly basis, not to exceed $1 million annually, from the rural basic fund to the Secondary Roads Department.

• Dimmitt serving on a board developing a 28E Agreement with the city of Fairfield for funding the proposed new outdoor pool and gym.

“This is not predicting the county vote will pass this,” said Reed.

“It’s to have in place and move forward Aug. 7, if it does pass,” said Dimmitt.

Jefferson County residents living outside of any corporate city limits can vote in a special election Aug. 6 on a measure to allow the county to borrow and contribute $1 million to the project to build a new outdoor pool and a new gym.

 

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