Scott Co. Task Force Revived to Tackle Increasing Issues - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Scott Co. Task Force Revived to Tackle Mental Health/Law Enforcement Issues

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A somber situation when it comes to mental health has sparked a recent revival of a group in Scott County.

The standoff Monday night in Davenport, where a 24-year old man was hold up in his home threatening to hurt himself, is exactly the kind of thing plaguing local law enforcement and mental health agencies more and more. There are increased issues from the health department to the hospitals.

"When they're meeting criteria for care they're acutely ill. The level of violence has increased significantly in the psychiatric intensive care unit and we've seen that in the last probably 18 months," said Heidi Bradley, Manager of the Genesis Behavioral Health Department.

What brings this group of local entity representatives together Tuesday is something that started in the 1970's, the Scott County Task Force on Mental Health and Law Enforcement. A few years ago the group fell by the wayside, but a cycle of problems did not.

"Somewhere it's got to stop," said Major Mike Brown with the Scott County Sheriff's Office, "What do we do?"

The group is back in action as of June. There are 20 to 25 agencies on the roster. It's about keeping a dialogue going on the issues, and a better understanding of what each entity can and cannot do. "It opens up the communication lines and we can help one another out and ultimately we're helping out the citizens in our community," said Lori Elam, Director of Scott County Community Services.

For example, the Genesis representative and psychiatrist recently taking a tour of the jail. "Look at what type of setting are our patients when they come to you," said Bradley to Major Brown.

Plus, there's coming up with ways to make up for fewer resources. "State funding cuts, poor reimbursement rates," said Anne Armknecht, CEO of Vera French. "We've actually changed our staffing patterns in the last year of our out-patient clinic to meet the needs of people just walking in for emergencies."

And knowing there may be better options for people who, before, may have just been stuck in the legal system. That alternative often becoming a strain on the system and the person in need. "Is this the right way to handle it. If it's not, what can we do to make it better, more streamlined," said Major Brown.

"I've had more contact with the other police departments because they didn't realize that community services can do this, or this," added Elam.

The task force is trying to tackle current trends and be proactive about challenges or changes to health care that may arise in the future. "So we can continue to treat these folks as best we can," said Bradley.

The task force meets every other month. Another topic of discussion is impacts of the state's mental health re-design. Scott county expects more funding, but some surrounding counties will get less.

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