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OUR OPINION: Woodbury County mental health conflict needs resolution

Sioux City Journal - 3/25/2018

In November, we urged involved leaders to not lose sight of the fact individuals and families with consequential needs are caught in the middle of the conflict over mental health services in Woodbury County. The longer the dispute drags on without a final solution, we said then, the more uncomfortable their positions become.

Today, as April approaches, those individuals and families await resolution, still.

For this reason, we urge the Iowa Department of Human Services to expedite approval for Woodbury County to form its own region for delivery of mental health services for one year. State approval will end some of the uncertainty facing county residents who receive these mental health services by bridging the gap between Woodbury County's July 1, 2018, departure from Sioux Rivers Regional Mental Health and Disability Services to its (hoped-for) July 1, 2019, addition to Rolling Hills Community Service Region.

At its meeting on Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors voted to request approval from the state.

We do not believe forcing an arrangement whereby Woodbury County remains part of Sioux Rivers for one more year serves a useful purpose because, in our view, relations between the two are strained to the point of no return - unfortunately. In other words, it's time for Woodbury County and Sioux Rivers (of which Plymouth and Sioux counties will remain members after June 30) to move in new, different directions.

As we have observed in this space before, we have been troubled by a gnawing feeling this debate about mental health services is driven too much by contentious relationships between decision-makers and not enough by what's best for those affected by the decisions.

However, the landscape today is what it is: Woodbury County will leave Sioux Rivers this year. In the first of several votes by the board and votes by each member county necessary for final approval, the Rolling Hills board earlier this month said it is willing to accept Woodbury County as a member, but not until next year.

Individuals and families in need deserve some measure of clarity about the short-term future.

The state should provide that for them.


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