The Buena Vista County Board of Supervisors are currently under negotiation with two area non-profit organizations that are vying to provide mental health services for County residents in Fiscal Year 2009.
With a deadline of April 2008 to have a memorandum of understanding in place with either the Plains Area Mental Health Center of LeMars or the Northwest Iowa Mental Health Center (Seasons Center) of Spencer, the state Department of Community Services is weighing their decision carefully, according to Director Dawn Mentzer/CPC.
"We want to look at a cost-effective option that will meet the needs of the residents of Buena Vista County while insuring accountability of the provider," Mentzer said.
Because the County Board of Supervisors decide, through the support of the county Department of Community Services, the structure of mental health services that can be provided for emergency services, as well as education & consultation and fee-based treatment programs, it is looking forward to making a decision.
"We have to seriously look at Plains as an option but they need to be cost competitive", said Ken Hach, Supervisor for District I..
Mentzer, who has been the County Community Services Director since 1999, met with the Board to discuss the important FY 09 decision with Plains or Seasons. Seasons has been providing mental health service for residents in the Buena Vista County despite the fact that the County has not received any state-based Community Service Block Grant funds since 2002 for this form of program.
Plains has submitted an initial proposal for County review for emergency service, consultation & education, and treatment. Dale Arends, Board Chairperson, has asked to keep parts of this negotiation in confidence so that it does not mitigate their efforts in securing a provider with Seasons, Plains or another provider.
Part of Arends' reason for confidentiality is because Plains has quoted the Board with a number of encounters that is at least 20 times more than the number of encounters that Seasons has provided over the previous fiscal year which is in need of clarification regarding their annual estimates.
According to Plains' encounter estimates, it would have an encounter rate of almost 4% of the county population while Seasons has been serving significantly less clients than what has been quoted.
Plains and Seasons are considered regional providers with center-based services. Plains has facilities in LeMars, Cherokee and Ida Grove while Seasons is in Spencer, Storm Lake and other markets. If Plains is selected, It has asked for support from the county with "start-up costs" if it is chosen to provide services for Buena Vista County.
According to Mentzer, Seasons has had 89 Buena Vista County encounters for emergency service, 36 non-county funded clients have utilized its medication management program with 64 non-unique prescription samples over the last six months. Last fiscal year, Seasons was awarded a contract of $134,000 for their service.
Each organizational tax return indicates that they have full-time psychologists on-staff as well.
Seasons top-paid psychologist is Dr. Mary Segreto, of Spencer, and according to the organizational tax records is earning over $150,000 in salaried compensation for Fiscal Year 2005.
Also, the non-profit organization listed their top three paid employees that are not officers, directors or employees as full-time psychologists.
Some 55.61% ($1.983 million) of the organizations expenses were in the form of employee compensation.
Seasons FY 2005 return disclosed that it had revenues of $3.773 million with expenses of $3.567 million and a net cash balance of $356,530 which is less than three months of operating reserve.
Plains two highest independent contractors also provide therapeutic and psychiatric expertise.
Dr. Brian Fulton, a psychiatrist from Cherokee, earned over $98,000 in fiscal year 2006.
Plains returned a FY 2006 return of $1.688 million in revenues against $1.684 million in expenses and a net cash balance of $67,243, which is less than three months of operating reserve.