A half dozen people delivered more than 5,000 petition signatures to the governor’s office Thursday afternoon, urging Governor Terry Branstad to keep the two remaining state-run Mental Health Institutes open. Branstad closed the Mental Health Institutes in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant this year and Aubreeanna Dolan of West Des Moines organized the online petition drive.
“The resources are not out there for these individuals that are in these homes,” she says.
Legislators passed a bipartisan compromise that would have temporarily restored services at the Clarinda Mental Health Institute for frail elderly patients who are mentally ill. The plan also called for reopening the Mount Pleasant facility for treatment of patients with the dual diagnosis of mental illness and substance abuse. Branstad vetoed those proposals and has not ruled out closing the remaining two Mental Health Institutes. Dolan says the mental health care system cannot stand the loss.
“I know several individuals that have gotten services from these institutions and it’s saved their lives,” Dolan says.
Dolan points to a recent Pew Charitable Trust report which ranked Iowa 47th among the states for the percentage of the state budget spent on mental health services. The state president of the AFSCME union and 20 state legislators have filed a lawsuit challenging Governor Branstad’s closure of the Mental Health Institutes in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant. Fewer than 200 mentally ill patients are cared for in the state hospitals in Cherokee and Independence.