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McLean County Health Department Administrator Camille Rodriguez, third from left, speaks to McLean County Board of Health members and health department staff during a Board of Health meeting Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019, in the McLean County Health Department building in downtown Bloomington.

BLOOMINGTON — The McLean County Board of Health approved contracts on Wednesday night for the balance of 2019 for Center for Human Services' psychiatric and emergency crisis intervention programs.

The contracts call for slight increases over 2018 funding, but not enough for CHS to resume accepting new clients into its psychiatric program, CHS Executive Director Tom Barr told The Pantagraph after the meeting.

"We are very proud to have the opportunity to continue to provide critical psychiatric and crisis services with Board of Health funding," Barr said.

But that funding essentially is a continuation of yearly funding of the two CHS programs, Barr said. CHS needs another $400,000 to resume accepting new clients into its psychiatric program, Barr said.

"We continue to look for grants and other funding opportunities but, so far, have been unsuccessful," he said.

Money from a local sales tax established in 2015 for mental health programs is intended for new initiatives rather than core programs such as the CHS psychiatric program, which serves people ages 12 and older with severe and persistent mental illness.

John M. Scott Health Trust has granted $95,857 to CHS for the psychiatric program — $40,857 more than last year — but that money is for one year, Barr said.

On Dec. 3, CHS suspended accepting new clients into its psychiatric program because of declining support from the state and United Way of McLean County since 2015. That decline will total $523,000 by later this year, Barr said.

The number of people served by the program is down to 720, Barr said. CHS has spent $1.5 million of its reserves to sustain the program, but its reserves are down to $2.9 million.

The Board of Health decided in December to extend the board's 2018 contract with CHS until the end of February — rather than approving funding for all of 2019 — in an effort to get questions answered by CHS.

Since then, McLean County Health Department Administrator Camille Rodriguez and two Board of Health members met with Barr and two members of his staff.

"I think many of our questions were answered," Rodriguez said after the meeting. But, going forward, the Board of Health and the health department want to increase communication with CHS to "avoid another situation where a provider suspends referrals," Rodriguez said.

The board approved $278,709 for psychiatric services for March 1 through Dec. 31, which brings 2019's total allocation to $333,000, compared with $325,745 last year, said Cathy Dreyer, the health department finance director.

The board approved $319,700 for crisis intervention for March 1 through Dec. 31, which brings 2019's total allocation to $382,000, compared with $373,800 last year, Dreyer said.

Board of health President Judy Buchanan noted the slight increases.

"These are services that must be provided," she said.

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Contact Paul Swiech at (309) 820-3275. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_swiech

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Health Reporter

Health reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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