Leslie Carpenter

What would Jesus do about Iowa's broken mental health system?

Leslie Carpenter: Eliminating inpatient psychiatric beds has dire consequences for people with serious brain disorders. -promoted by Laura Belin

Mercy Iowa City recently announced that it will be closing its inpatient psychiatric unit, due to “the financial impact of COVID-19.” Hospital officials confirmed that the unit (recently staffed for ten inpatient beds) will close by the end of the calendar year, “in favor of expanding our outpatient service where there is greater community need.” 

However, outpatient care is no substitute for patients who need inpatient care. In fact, there’s no state in our country that needs to expand inpatient care more than Iowa.

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It is about the beds

Leslie Carpenter of Iowa City is an advocate for people with serious brain disorders and works to improve the broken treatment system in Iowa and across the country. -promoted by Laura Belin

Here in Iowa, we have heard for several years that we should realize the mental health crisis “isn’t about the beds.”

The argument was couched in a way to say it wasn’t about the beds, but the type of beds. The goal was to divert our attention from the fact that our state has the worst proportion of state bed numbers per capita: just two beds per 100,000 people. The Treatment Advocacy Center ranked Iowa dead last, 51st in the country on this metric. We have only 64 adult beds and 32 child beds at our state-run Mental Health Institutes in Independence and Cherokee.

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Why Jerry Foxhoven is wrong about closing Iowa's mental health institutions

Leslie Carpenter is an advocate for improving the treatment of people with serious mental illnesses in Iowa and across the country. -promoted by desmoinesdem

While speaking at the National Alliance on Mental Illness Iowa Annual Conference on November 16, Iowa Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven advised the attendees that it was a good thing that two of the state’s four in-patient mental health institutions (MHIs) were closed, and that we have moved to community-based care. He further shared that it was a good thing to go from more than 700 beds to the current level of 64 beds for adults in the whole state.

We should recall that this reduction of state-operated acute care beds has caused Iowa to be ranked 51st by the Treatment Advocacy Center.

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