Southern Iowa Mental Health Crisis Approach Changing Gears

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CENTERVILLE, Iowa  --  As Oak Place in Centerville gets ready to close its doors after three years of serving as a mental health crisis center, the results were not the problem.

"They really did wonderful things for the clients and performed wonderful services," said South Central Behavioral Health Region C.E.O. Jennifer Vitko.

Vitko says after Oak Place's funding grant ran out, the region opened up a Request For Proposal (RFP) for facilities throughout the four-county region of Appanoose, Davis, Mahaska and Wapello.  Vitko said, "Oak place has chosen not to submit a letter of intent to respond to the grant."

No response, no funding.  Oak Place Executive Director Jackie Sharp doesn't disagree, but says there is an explanation.

"We would rather do it under one roof with one set of staff who are experts in the area of mental health."

Instead of having five mental health crisis beds in Centerville, the region wants to cut it to three, citing that Oak Place operated at a 47% occupancy rate.  The region also wants to increase locations by adding two beds in Oskaloosa and two beds in Ottumwa.  They hope to expand on the type of patients allowed and increase locations, but Sharp believes it will spread something else.

She said, "We don't feel the proposal is safe based on the type of people they want to accept, and they are going to incur three times the cost."

Now, Oak Place has confirmed its doors will close October 31st, which is something Vitko says they hoped did not have to happen.

"It is a provider choice to respond to RFP for grant funding known for crisis beds."

The closing does not affect the region keeping three mental health crisis beds in Centerville.  The companies that will be awarded with funding will be announced on October 24th.  Oak Place has seven employees who will be impacted by this closing.