Dickinson County Considering Switching Mental Health Service Regions

Tue 11-5-2019

(Spirit Lake)-- Dickinson county is thinking about switching mental health service regions.

The county currently belongs to Northwest Iowa Care Connections. However, Beth Will, Community Services Director, told the Board of Supervisors today (Tues.) O'Brien county will be leaving Northwest Iowa Care Connections and will be joining the Sioux Rivers region. Will said since Dickinson county is contiguous with O'Brien, the move would allow Dickinson county to also explore going to the Sioux Rivers Region. But she says there are a number of pro's and cons that would need to be considered in making such a move...Beth Will01 

"Pro's would be our service providers are in our western counties of northwest Iowa and wanting to remain in proximity to those. Cons are if the Northwest Iowa Care Connections chooses to add more counties they're going to be forced to add those counties to the east whereas we don't have a lot of affiliation in services that direction, so it's a million dollar question as far as what's the best services, but I need to look at how do I serve the county's residents the best and with the services and the proximity and close to proximity so they can get to the services that they need."

Will adds that Kossuth, Winnebago and Worth counties have sent letters of intent expressing their desire to join Northwest Iowa Care Connections.

Will says another unknown that could come into the mix is what the Iowa Legislature may do in the next session...Beth Will02 

"Legislation can change on any session. They can change levy rates, they can change the requirements or services that we have to provide, they can add additional services. Unfortunately they haven't sent any money our way with providing those services, relying all on tax dollars."

She added cost is a huge unknown, as well as any moves other counties might make from one service region to another. 

The supervisors took no action on the matter, saying they want more information. They'll be meeting in a special session Thursday (Nov. 7th) at 4:00 pm to consider the matter further, at which time they also plan to meet with the CEO of the Sioux Rivers Region. 

Under Iowa Code, the supervisors must sign a letter of intent by November 15th if they plan to move to a different mental health service region.