A third patient has died since being transferred to a private nursing home from the shuttered state mental institution in Clarinda. That news came as the state’s Department of Human Services provided an update on the state’s mental health redesign.
Eighty-year-old Ron Kuker died last week at the Perry Health Center after living there for just less than two months. He was transferred there after Governor Terry Branstad closed the Clarinda facility where he had lived. Mental illness advocates have raised concerns about the closure of that facility and a similar one in Mount Pleasant. Iowa Director of Human Services Chuck Palmer says he’s not sure if there’s a need for more in-patient psychiatric bed space in Iowa.
“I’m certainly not ruling out more specialized facilities,” he says. “I don’t know that we need – quote - additional psychiatric beds, but I’ll have a better take on that after I see the data”
Palmer says there are more than 700 beds for adult inpatient psychiatric care in 27 private hospitals. Palmer says his department’s budget is not complete and he has no intention to close the remaining state-run mental health facilities in Cherokee and Independence.
Palmer also says the state’s mental health system is serving more people and providing more modern care. This month, the state has started a new bed-tracking system to provide better information about what kind of services are needed in the state. Palmer says this new technology will make things clearer.
“Is it a smaller, more specialized residential program that can deal with some of the individuals that may or may not be appropriate in some of our emergency rooms or psychiatric hospitals?”