The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

April 3, 2014

New mental health facility opens in Centerville


The main purpose of Oak Place is to allow patients a window in order to get back on their feet. All patients are voluntarily admitted. There are no court committals to the facility. And discharge begins on day one of a patients stay, with staff evaluating what the patient needs in order to return to the community in a successful manner.

“We have come up with this model of in-community care,” said Sharp.

Potential patients will usually come onto the radar of Oak Place through interactions with the emergency room, law enforcement or primary care physicians but families and caretakers can also get in touch with Centerville Community Betterment at (641) 437-1051.

Before the stabilization home was opened the group first put in place an emergency pre-screening system to help identify mentally ill individuals in Appanoose County who could be eligible for the unit. Working closely with Mercy Medical Center in Centerville, as well as law enforcement, four licensed social workers are now in place to complete pre-screenings of possible patients for Oak Place. About 50 pre-screenings have been completed since October.

“Mercy Hospital has worked with us in this process,” said Buss. “They are just a very important tool in this process.”

Oak Place is one of the first in community care programs in the state to be implemented since the change to regional mental health care. It is hoped that the facility will be a model for other regions to follow. Stabilization homes are currently being planned for both Wapello and Davis counties as well.

Steve Siegel with the Wapello County Board of Supervisors is the South Central Behavioral Health Region Governance Board chair. He visited Oak Place during their open house near the end of March and praised the facility.

“To me it’s just a humane, less costly, more effective alternative to emergency rooms and commitments,” said Siegel.

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