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Letter to the editor

By Staff | Oct 10, 2009

To the EDN:

October is National Mental Illness Awareness month. NAMI of NW Iowa wants to bring a regional issue to your attention that threatens the availability of resources to persons with mental illness requiring acute psychiatric care.

Recently, an MHI Closure task force, appointed by the Iowa Department of Human Services at the request of the Iowa Legislature, began a series of tours of the state’s mental health institutes (MHI) with the intention of making a recommendation to the Iowa Legislature by Dec. 1, 2009, to possibly close one of them.

Cherokee MHI had their site visit on Tuesday, Sept. 15 and over 300 interested and concerned NW Iowa citizens packed the auditorium at the Institute to show their support of this regional facility. There were numerous members of different parts of the community present: patients, their families, physicians, clinicians, businessmen, law enforcement, community service providers and local and state government officials. They all said the same thing: “don’t close the Cherokee MHI.”

With 102 years of patient care in this region, Cherokee MHI has been a necessary healthcare partner, providing treatment and support to persons with mental illness who live here in Northwest Iowa and in the 55 Iowa counties it serves. With adult and children psychiatric services, the Cherokee MHI provides an acute recovery model that emphasizes education and empowerment to support short-term stays and community integration with as needed local supports and supervision.

Dr. Dan Gillette, superintendent at the Cherokee MHI, will be the featured speaker at the NAMI of NW Iowa fifth annual Public Forum being held Monday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. in the Oak and Maple Conference rooms in the lower level of the Spencer Hospital. We encourage the public to attend and learn more about these recent events and the impact they have on Northwest Iowa.

Betty Dawson

NAMI of NW Iowa member