Lack of mental health facilities impacts Hubbard County budget
A statewide shortage of mental health facilities puts a strain on the Hubbard County Social Services Department’s budget.
“Some of the cost drivers in our budget, as you know, are out-of-home placements as well as facility placements. It’s always been kind of an eye opener,” County Social Services Director Brian Ophus told the Hubbard County Board on Tuesday.
As an example, Ophus said there is an individual waiting for court-ordered placement in St. Peter, but all of those beds are currently full.
In the meantime, this person is staying at the Anoka-Metro Regional Treatment Center, but, Ophus explained, that facility doesn’t meet the level of care that would allow Medical Assistance to cover costs.
“This is the state’s deal, where they are short on beds, short on availability,” Ophus said. “The cost of keeping an individual at Anoka when they don’t meet the level of (MA) care is $1,396 a day.”
This individual was placed in Anoka in June 2019. “The cost from June to December that we pay is $256,864,” Ophus said. “Some of that we do get reimbursed from the state, but just a heads up for you to think about that. There is a lack of spots for mentally ill individuals. … For individuals that have high-need behaviors, they have to have a secure facility.”
Ophus noted that Beltrami County is currently building a 32-bed mental health clinic.
“You don’t have any idea when there will be a bed open there (St. Peter)?” asked board chair Char Christianson.
“No, we were told ‘no date given yet.’ It’s pretty filled up,” Ophus said.
Regarding child protective services placement, Ophus said there is an individual that needs a secure facility which provides intensive mental health services.
“In Minnesota, there isn’t currently one for females,” he added. The nearest option for this individual was in Missouri at $500 per day. “So that treatment cycle could be as little as 30 days to two years.”
It’s difficult to predict costs, Ophus said, because the length of treatment is unknown.
In this case, a county social worker found foster care that can work with this individual, he said.
County commissioner David De La Hunt encouraged Ophus to contact state legislators and explain the problem. “This didn’t occur overnight. Facilities have been closed in the state over multiple decades. You’re starting to see the ramifications for that now,” he said.
“With the mental health crisis that we have now – and the drugs that do cause mental health or at least amplify the effects of the mental illness – we’re starting to see that more,” Ophus said, noting he will be at the Capitol later this month.
“If we’re having to send people to Missouri and stuff like that, it doesn’t take that long to figure out that it’s more expensive to do that than have our own facilities,” De La Hunt said.
In related business, the county board approved a $19,552 quote from Northwoods Consulting Partners, Inc. to develop a technology plan for the county’s social services and child support departments.