The state’s new Department of Human Services director told a legislative committee Wednesday that his agency will not proceed with controversial reductions in staff and beds at facilities in Clarinda, Cherokee, Mount Pleasant, and Independence.
The outgoing director of D.H.S. warned last week that the agency may have to make the cuts after spending cuts ordered by the governor and legislature last spring were bigger than expected. Current director, Chuck Palmer, says he thinks the department can manage by shifting some money around and possibly requesting a mid-year spending increase from lawmakers.
“There’s a commitment on the part of this administration to not do something that would endanger the health and safety of the people that were serving or the people that are serving those individuals,” Palmer said.
Palmer says there would be no place to take the people involved if the beds were cut. Palmer says the people that are in those facilities today are there in many cases because there are no alternatives, and they have already been through many community settings. He says the want to avoid cuts that would endanger the health and safety of mental health patients.
“These are people who are extremely vulnerable with high needs,” Palmer said. Palmer made his comments to the Health and Human Services Budget subcommittee. Palmer says the current staffing and patient levels would be maintained at the four mental health institutions and juvenile home in Toledo through the end of the fiscal year on June 30th.