When legislators added access centers to the mental health core, they wanted a one-stop-shop for mental health evaluations and care planning. The law specified a minimum of six across the state. And, rules identified requirements necessary for a center location or virtual collaboration to meet the needs.

access door

In a previous post, we discussed the requirements including the services included, the standards of operation and the policies. The links to the Iowa law and rules can be found in that post.

Now, regions express concerns that the funding of the centers is not finalized. The need for this service continues to rise, yet it remains unclear who will fund the projects. Despite all the challenges, regions have moved forward in plans to develop centers.

Access Center Development by region:

  1. Central Iowa Community Services: Planning for FY 2020, partnership with other regions in consideration. Budgeted $500,000 for development.
  2. County Rural Offices of Social Services: Physical structure development in progress in Osceola with services to begin in FY 2020. $2.5 Million RFP awarded in FY 2018 for development.
  3. County Social Services: Access Center located in Waterloo. A second Access Center considered in the western part of the region. Budget of $500,000 for start-up of second center
  4. Eastern Iowa MHDS region: Currently not available. No budget for this service.
  5. Heart of Iowa Region: Hope Wellness Center working to add subacute and then seek accreditation as an Access Center in the region
  6. MHDS of the East Central Region: In development in Dubuque county, start date unknown; Linn county, start date Dec 2019; and Johnson county, start date Oct 2020. Almost $5 Million budgeted for the creation and sustainability of these centers.
  7. Northwest Iowa Care Connections: Currently not available. No budget for this service.
  8. Polk County Health Services: Current plan unavailable upon publishing
  9. Rolling Hills Community Services Region: Currently not available. Planning during regional task force this year. No money budgeted currently.
  10. Sioux Rivers MHDS: Currently not available. No budget for this service. Planning with adjoining regions.
  11. South Central Behavioral Health Region: To begin July 2019, 100,000 budgeted. No location noted.
  12. Southeast Iowa Link: No budget for this service. Planning with adjoining regions.
  13. Southern Hills Regional Mental Health: $16,000 budgeted, to use as fee-for-service in adjoining region
  14. Southwest Iowa MHDS Region: $250,000 budgeted. Planning with adjoining regions.

Number of Access Centers in Development:

Currently, service plans indicate 7 (possibly 8 including Polk county) locations in development. The prominent area of development is in Eastern Iowa where much of the state population resides. Smaller, more rural parts of Iowa including the southern tier and western Iowa remain in the planning stages.

Challenges in Development:

Challenges facing rural Iowa continue to be threefold. One, workforce needed to maintain an intensive program. Two, population seeking services to sustain the program is imperative for economies of scale. And finally, funding of a high intensity service is expensive in rural Iowa. Careful planning together with multiple regions will aid in strategic development and sustainability of this critical program in all parts of Iowa.

Discussion Question:

What value do you see in Access Centers? Where would you like one to be located?