Department of Human Services director Charlie Krogmeier issued a report today that recommends the state close the Mount Pleasant Mental Health Institution and move its services to Independence. Krogmeier spoke with reporters and says the report meets the mandate set by the legislature that his department make a recommendation by December 15th. But, Krogmeier says it is not an action his department will lobby for.
“No, what we’ll be doing is providing the legislature with background information…and what this tries to do is say if you’re going to seriously close one, here are the kind of things you should look at, that should factor into a decision,” Krogmeier says. Krogmeier says the decision is partly based on saving money.
He says the legislature asked them to address keeping the same number of beds, keep the same number of the same services and programs and physically have them in three location instead of four. “That’s different than looking at the overall system and the kinds of care that needs to be provided, and how best we provide those,” Krogmeier says.
Krogmeier says closing down the Mt. Pleasant facility would not make much of an impact on mental health spending. Krogmeier says it doesn’t save much money when you break down the number of positions you would likely lay off or reduce at Mt. Pleasant compared to the number you would add at Independence. “It’s a slight savings, but it’s not very much,” Krogmeier said.
Krogmeier says the savings would only be around $500,000 if the plan was implemented by 2011. He says they could make the change by spring if the legislature decided to close Mt. Pleasant. Krogmeier says a new law normally take effect on July 1st, but if lawmakers gave them the go-ahead, they could start in May and it would take about six months. He says there would have to be some remodeling at Independence. Krogmeier says the location and number of facilities offering mental health services is only part of another issue that needs to be addressed.
Krogmeier says the bigger question that needs to be discussed over time is what the mental health delivery system should look like and how we are going to pay for it. He says that’s another whole series of debates. Krogmeier says other states like Minnesota have a system where there are several smaller providers of mental health services.
There are 108 employees at the facility in Mt. Pleasant and it has an operating budget of $8.8 million. Krogmeier said he recognized the negative impact on the community with the closing of the Mount Pleasant facility, but says part of the loss could be offset if the legislature decides to use the vacated space to expand the prison there.