Annual Cost of Care at Mental Health Institutes

November 21, 2015

A review from the state auditor’s office shows just how much the state has been spending to care for mentally ill patients who’ve been residents of the state-run hospitals in Clarinda, Cherokee, Independence and Mount Pleasant.

Only two of those Mental Health Institutes are open today. Governor Branstad closed the MHIs in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant this summer.

According to the auditor’s calculations for fiscal year 2014, it cost more than $160,000 a year to care for a resident in Mount Pleasant’s MHI. It cost about twice that much to care for a patient in the MHI in Clarinda. The state spent $440,000 per resident at the MHI in Independence.

Cherokee’s costs were highest, at more than half a million dollars per patient. However, the auditor’s report says that figure includes some of the out-patient services provided by Cherokee’s MHI, but the data wasn’t available to auditors to separate how much was spent on in-patient care and on out-patient care at Cherokee.

Spot checks by the state auditor’s office have led to changes in how staff at the Mental Health Institute in Cherokee handle prescription medications. The auditor’s review raised concerns about the inventory of prescription drugs kept at the Mental Health Institute in Cherokee. It cited a “lack of segregation.” Officials say the pharmacist and pharmacy technicians at the MHI were not routinely following established procedures, but now, one technician receives the prescription drugs and someone else logs it into the pharmacy’s inventory.

The auditor’s review also raised concerns about bookkeeping at the now-closed Mental Health Institute in Clarinda. Cash deposits were being made, but they were not within the 10-day window required by law. Staff in Clarinda started to make deposits once a week after the auditor flagged the problem.