Linn, Johnson to team up on mental health

Department of Human Services encouraging regional agencies after MHDD reform legislation passed

Linn and Johnson counties will begin planning a regional agency to provide services for mentally handicapped and developmentally disabled residents, supervisors from both counties agreed Wednesday.

“We have many of the same consumers that move back and forth,” Johnson County Supervisor Rod Sullivan said. “We have a lot of the same problems. We have a lot of potential unknowns, but I’d just as soon tackle those unknowns with Linn County than on our own.”

Supervisors from both counties met Wednesday morning for the first time to discuss the creation of a regional MHDD agency. The state Department of Human Services strongly encourages formation of regional agencies under MHDD reform legislation passed by the Legislature last session.

At least one other area county may join if Linn and Johnson team up. Linn County officials have held initial meetings with counterparts in Benton and Jones counties.

Linn County Supervisor Linda Langston said Jones County may pursue talks with Dubuque County, but “Benton is definitely still open.”

Planning would address what services would be delivered where, who would provide case-management services, and computer compatibility. Johnson County Supervisor Janelle Rettig said any new agency should maintain local access to the MHDD system for residents of each county.

“What I don’t want to see happen is, people can’t go to their own county and get started,” Rettig said.

Sullivan, chairman of Johnson County’s board, said a board representative will contact counterparts in Benton and Jones counties to notify them they’ll be joining the effort.

Langston said she hopes for “resolution on what we want by the end of the year.”

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