HIGHLIGHTS + OTTAWA COUNTY
Meeting highlights—FY24 budget passes in committee, CMH staffing concerns, fewer foster homes, more Medicaid recipients
Published September 20, 2023
Written by Adams
Photography by Simply American
The Health & Human Services Committee, Talent & Recruitment Committee, and Finance & Administration Committee filled the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners’ time on Tuesday, September 19th.
Health & Human Services Committee
Talent & Recruitment Committee
Finance & Administration Committee (Special Meeting)
Tuesday, September 19, 2023
FY24 Budget Finally Moving To The Board Of Commissioners
The Finance & Administration Committee passed and moved forward the FY24 budget—the second largest proposed budget in 15 years.
• Zylstra put forward four different motions, attempting to amend the budget with options to fully fund the Health Department, eliminate the Digital Communications Director position, and reduce funds for Corporate Counsel—all failed
• Public Health Department employees Lisa Uganski and Marcia Mansaray interjected themselves into the discussion even though this meeting was for commissioner discussion only
• Bonnema put forward a motion to hire a consultant to do a needs assessment instead of hiring a director for the Department of Veterans Affairs
• Bonnema’s motion failed because many of the commissioners were not comfortable with sitting back and waiting to provide better services for Ottawa County veterans
• FY24 budget finally was voted on and passed in this special Finance & Administration work session in a 7-2 vote—Bergman and Terpstra were not present
• Zylstra and Bonnema voted no
After many weeks of added meetings, additional transparency into the numbers, and more discussion than ever before, Ottawa County only has one more week until the budget process is finished.
Community Mental Health’s Biggest Challenge
Lynne Doyle, Community Mental Health (CMH) Executive Director, explained that one of her department’s biggest challenges continues to be staffing. Doyle also spoke about grants and addressed Commission Gretchen Cosby’s question about a plan for emergency psychiatric placement.
• There are 10 vacancies, down from 14 just a few weeks ago
• There continues to be difficulty finding Master’s level clinicians, nurses, and Bachelor’s level case manager types of positions
• Private practices are the main competitor for candidates
• In the last month, CMH received a $3.5 million annual grant—which is not a lump sum but more of a reimbursement—and was approved to be a part of the State of Michigan’s CCBHC (Certified Behavioral Health Clinics) Demonstration program
• CMH received an Improvement and Advancement grant from SAMSA (Substance Abuse, Mental Health Services Administration), funding $1 million per year for four years to improve the CCBHC structure
• If an emergency psychiatric placement is needed, CMH first would attempt to find placement at a local hospital—if none is available, they will look through the entire state and neighboring states to find a bed
• In the event of a crisis in a residential placement, the options are much more limited due to a huge shortage of residential beds in Ottawa County
Number Of Foster Care Homes On The Decline
Kendra Spanjer, from the Department of Health & Human Services, spoke on foster care in Ottawa County.
• As of July 2023, 103 children are in the foster care program
• During this fiscal year so far, MDHHS has licensed 10 homes, but closed 18
• In FY22, the county as a whole opened 43 new homes, but closed 67
• Rationale for the closures included: long-term foster care parents retiring, some homes adopted and maximized their capacity, a few are starting new families or are caring for older family members, and some canceled their licenses due to new licensing requirements
• One of the requirements for foster parents is Sexual and Gender Identification Training, which Spanjer described as: “… if the child comes into the home and wants to identify as a different gender than they are biologically, it’s an education to let them know how and what that might look like.”
• Other new requirements focus on features in the home, such as pools, hot tubs, and latches
• There are three individuals in Ottawa County who are in residential care and ready for community placement; however, there are no community placement options for them
• There is one young lady in shelter care who is ready to be back in the community, but there is not a residential care option that fits her needs
Medicaid Recipients On The Rise
Medicaid Public Health re-determinations are underway.
• During the Covid pandemic the re-determinations were paused, and beneficiaries were allowed to continue getting Medicaid whether or not it was needed
• Now, post Covid, the State has restarted the re-determinations, and it is expected that some will no longer qualify for Medicaid
• Spanjer brought back an answer to the following question from a previous meeting: “How many individuals were on Medicaid before Covid, during Covid, and post pandemic?”
• In her response, Spanjer supplied the following data: 2019 had 33,079 individuals, 2020 had 36,398 individuals, 2021 had 42,937 individuals, and 2023, as of August, has had 54,150 individuals
Even after many employee and commissioner interruptions throughout the meetings, the committees pushed forward, working diligently for the betterment of Ottawa County.