Employees at the state-run Mental Health Institutes in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant that are being closed say the hospitals have provided high-quality care, even if the facilities do not have the “gold star” of accreditation.

Cindy Fedler, a nurse clinician, was hired at the Mental Health Institute in Mount Pleasant in 2007 — to prepare for the tests required for the accrediting process.

“That plan was aborted due to financial reasons,” Fedler said.

Fedler worked at the MHI in Mount Pleasant until April 6, when she was laid off.

“The accreditation would not have changed the way we admitted folks,” she said this week. “It would not have changed the way those who had payment, insurance — the way they paid, it would not have changed that.”

And Fedler said Mount Pleasant’s MHI met all the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services “best practices” guidelines.

“The accreditation we keep hearing in the media, I want the truth to be known that that would have affected us not at all,” Fedler said, “other than a nice little title and a gold star behind our name.”

Governor Terry Branstad has said the two MHI’s are being closed because they’re antiquated and are not accredited. Ann Davison, a nurse clinician at the Clarinda Mental Health Institute, was hired in 2005 to prepare for the accreditation process there — but state officials decided not to spend the money.

“So no, we can’t get accredited if we don’t get a chance to do the test,” Davison said this week.

According to Davison, only half of Iowa’s private hospitals have paid the money and gotten accreditation.

“Are you all that concerned we’re not accredited and that’s why you’re shutting us down?” Davison asked during a senate committee meeting. “Please think about that.”

Davison and Fedler made their comments this week during testimony before the Iowa Senate Government Oversight Committee.

A spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Human Services says the accreditation fee is in the range of $8,850 to $11,850 per year.