Western Iowa Counties To Share Cost Of Woodbury County Mental Health Crisis Center

Feb 13, 2019

A mental health center that had an uncertain future nearly a year ago, will soon be shared by counties across the western part of the state. The move comes as Woodbury County changes the way it will provide mental health services next budget year.

Starting in July, Woodbury County will manage mental health services with seven counties to the east in a region called Rolling Hills Community Services, due to some disagreements it had with Plymouth and Sioux counties. Iowa counties form “regions” to deliver local mental health services.

Woodbury, Plymouth and Sioux counties share a crisis center in Sioux City called the Sioux Rivers Regional Assessment & Stabilization Center, but that center belongs to the Sioux Rivers mental health region, making the split a little complicated. The center helps people who might be having a panic attack, suicidal thoughts, or need their medication adjusted. 

"Family members in our community, and now in a larger net, whether it's Cherokee County or Lyon County, can also utilize that right here in Sioux City." -Woodbury County Supervisor Jeremy Taylor

As Woodbury County made progress in joining Rolling Hills between 2017 and 2018, there was speculation that Sioux Rivers could break up, and the counties would have to sell the center and divide up the profits. Now, Lyon County is joining the region, allowing Sioux Rivers to continue to operate.

The 11 counties in both mental health regions in western Iowa will share the center once Woodbury moves to Rolling Hills and Lyon moves to Sioux Rivers. Woodbury County Supervisor Jeremy Taylor says he’s pleased with the decision.

“Family members in our community, and now in a larger net, whether it’s Cherokee County or Lyon County, can also utilize that right here in Sioux City,” Taylor says.

Woodbury, Plymouth and Sioux have a contract with Siouxland Mental Health to run the center, which costs about $650,000 per year between the three counties, plus Medicaid fees, according to Sioux Rivers CEO Shane Walter. Under an agreement between the two regions starting July 1, Rolling Hills will pay 75 percent of the cost to operate the center and Sioux Rivers will pay the remainder. The total cost will rise to about $780,000 for the upcoming budget year.

Walter says approximately 350 people used the facility in 2018. Since the center is in Woodbury County and the county has the largest population, Woodbury County residents have accounted for about 90 percent of the usage of that facility, Walter says.

Walter says he is also content with the new agreement.

“We recognize that the majority of the people that are going to use it are from Woodbury County,” Walter says.

Though residents in Rolling Hills will have access to the crisis center, Dawn Mentzer, Rolling Hills’ CEO, says she doesn’t anticipate many patients in her region will drive far for services. Mentzer says Rolling Hills also has a crisis center in Sac County.

“We all know that we can’t afford both facilities, so we’re going to work on figuring out a better way to provide the service that can meet all eight counties in a central location,” says Mentzer.

Mentzer says discussions are ongoing over the next year about where a crisis center could be more easily accessible to all counties in Rolling Hills. Officials are also talking about implementing mobile crisis services to help law enforcement officers on-scene.