The Feed

Paramedics: A Key Link for Mental Health Care

For Paramedic Kelly Kjelstrom, plugging gaps in the mental health care system can mean something as simple as a late-night taco and a friendly chat. Part of his job is to help psychiatric patients in need of care avoid winding up in the emergency room, where they can get “boarded” for days, until they are released or a bed frees up at an inpatient facility.

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In Centerville, a Mental Health Success Story

As a “stabilization home,” Oak Place not only provides therapy, but also helps identify and meet immediate needs for local residents in crisis, including shelter, food and clothing. Most importantly, working with on-call licensed therapists, the local emergency room or jail can request a mental health screening at any time, ensuring that patients have their needs identified in a timely fashion and then met in an appropriate care setting.

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The State of Mental Health Care in Iowa

Although Iowa has made attempts to improve its behavioral health care delivery system, the system remains fragmented and is in need of more – more financial resources, more health care providers, more access points for patients needing services and more community resources to keep behavioral health patients healthy and close to home.

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Hospice Comforts Lake City Family

“Hospice gave my loved ones the ability to live out their last days in dignity and love, surrounded by people who truly cared. They became our family during those very critical days. The sincerity this staff has is unquestionable. For the compassion they have for those that are leaving us and for the caregivers, I cannot thank them enough.”

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Mental Health Care in Iowa is Fragmented and Costly

Iowa needs a full care continuum in behavioral health that includes sub-acute services, crisis intervention, crisis homes, nursing facility care and community-based services. With that infrastructure in place, more hospital inpatient psychiatric beds will become available for patients who truly need them, while patients needing less intensive care will receive it close to home. Properly investing in these more efficient and effective resources now will put our state on a path to reduce behavioral health care costs in the long run. Otherwise, reliance on stop-gap measures will continue to extract a high price from both Iowans and Iowa communities.

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