DHS Director Comments on Mental Health Institute Changes

The head of the Iowa Department of Human Services says he’s “not sure” there’s a need for more in-patient psychiatric bed space in Iowa for adults suffering from acute mental illnesses. Advocates for the mentally ill have raised concerns after the state-run Mental Health Institutes in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant were closed June 30th. Chuck Palmer briefed the Iowa Council on Human Services Wednesday morning.

Palmer is touting a “redesign” of the state’s public and private mental health care delivery system that was begun in 2011. He says the goal is to have a wider range of services availble, closer to the patient’s home. Palmer says there should be more attention paid to “specialized care” immediately after a mental illness is first diagnosed, and more

Palmer says today in Iowa, there are more than 700 spaces for adult inpatient psychiatric care in 27 private hospitals and the two remaining state-run Mental Health Institutes in Independence and . As of August 1st, Palmer and his staff have a new electronic system to track openings. Palmer says it will help hospitals track down an empty bed for a patient suffering from an acute mental illness, although some hospitals are having technical issues with the system today. (Story courtesy of Radio Iowa)