Fairfield Ledger

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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 21, 2017

Supervisors discuss mental health office staffing requirements

By Nicole Major, Ledger staff writer | May 08, 2017

The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors met Monday and discussed staffing requirements for the county’s Central Point of Coordination mental health office.

This comes on the heels of the supervisor’s approval of the revised 28E agreement between Jefferson County and Southeast Iowa Link Mental Health Disability Services, which the board approved at the end of April.

Supervisors Lee Dimmitt and Dee Sandquist voted in favor of the revised agreement, while supervisor Dick Reed voted against it, explaining that he didn’t approve of the verbiage.

Reed later clarified that he thought the SIEL region, which is made up of eight counties including Jefferson, had more control over the county’s mental health employees than the county did. He said that Jefferson County’s CPC employees were doing work for Van Buren County, which is also a member of SEIL’s eight county region.

Van Buren County does not have a mental health coordinator at this time.

Reed said he thought that Jefferson County should be reimbursed by Van Buren County for the work that Jefferson County employees do there.

The board discussed the issue in depth during its last meeting, and resolved that Sandquist, who is a member of the SEIL Governance Board, would meet with Van Buren County Supervisor Mark Lee to see if reimbursement is an option.

Lee sits on the Van Buren County Mental Health Governance Board.

“We are going to look into Van Buren County reimbursing Jefferson County for services,” Reed said during an interview Thursday. “The bottom line on that is, if it comes out of the Fund-10, then it’s going to be a wash.”

Reed said each county has a Fund-10, which is where the budget for mental health comes from.

“That’s the real legal question, if you can take money from another county’s Fund-10,” he said, adding that although the idea made “complete sense,” the government doesn’t always work that way.

While County CPC Coordinator Sandy Stever agreed that Jefferson County should receive reimbursement from Van Buren County, she disagreed with Reed on a possible Fund-10 payment being “a wash.”

“It’s not a wash here; what happens is there is no change in the needs for Jefferson County, but what would ultimately happen is that Van Buren County would be contributing to our salaries, so that would be extra dollars for services, which is a huge benefit for Jefferson County. It still keeps a focus on their needs in Van Buren County as well,” Stever said. “If they don’t have a mental health administrator, they don’t have anyone to help put services in place. They need me and [my assistant] Leia Craff as much as we need them. Now they can contribute to the cost of that help.”

Stever said that based on total population, she and Craff spend roughly 70 percent of their time on Jefferson County and around 30 percent of their time on Van Buren County.

“It will be like 71/29 next year. If I’m needed in Jefferson County, I will work the whole 40 hours here, but we don’t work 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. like some people. We are working whenever we are needed.”

Stever said being a part of the SEIL Region is beneficial for her office and the county.

“We’re more efficient,” she said of herself and the seven other CPCs. “The coordinators are more proficient in certain areas, which makes us more efficient. We all have to step in and do something for each other in a specialty area. There is strength in that.”

Tenco director of operations Codie Amason chimed in, offering a provider’s standpoint.

“It’s nice to have a cohesive unit of the coordinators providing equal support to the providers,” she said during an interview today.

Sandquist plans to meet with Lee next week.

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