Gubernatorial Candidate: Iowa Lacks Facilities, Clinicians for Mentally Ill Patients

A gubernatorial candidate made a stop at the Des Moines County Correctional Center in Burlington this morning.

Retired Des Moines businessman Fred Hubbell says the state needs to ensure there are more “crisis intervention and early prevention facilities” for Iowans with mental health needs. Hubbell is on a four-day tour of the state to meet with medical professionals and law enforcement as well as patients and families who’re trying to navigate the mental health care system.

“We want to learn more about this subject so we can be smarter about it and help craft some good solutions,” Hubbell says.

He is not ready to make specific proposals, but he sees a need to provide more treatment alternatives for patients who have a diagnosis for a mental health issue along with addictive behavior — like alcohol abuse. And Hubbell says Iowa has too few options for long-term mental health care.

“There’s also a real shortage of trained clinicians — counselors that have masters or psychiatrists or psychologists who have masters degrees, but it’s also an issue of where they’re located,” Hubbell says. “We need them in a lot of different parts of the state, not just in one area.”

Hubbell, the former CEO of Younkers department stores and his family’s insurance company, says providing appropriate mental health services is a workforce issue as well.

“A lot of individuals are really suffering a lot of discomfort and a lot of pain and anguish because the lack of facilities, the lack of trained professionals in mental health. That affects families as well as individuals and communities, but it also has an impact on the workplace,” Hubbell says. “If somebody has those issues, they’re clearly not going to as able to focus as they might normally at their job, so it interferes with their productivity and it can also interfere with the productivity of those around them sometimes.”

Hubbell was in Sioux City and Harlan Sunday before stopping at the Des Moines County Correctional Center in Burlington this morning. He is visiting the Genesis Medical Center in Davenport this afternoon.

He will host more roundtable discussions Tuesday and Wednesday at Sheriff’s Offices in Johnson, Dubuque and Black Hawk, Story and Polk Counties.