Osceola Access Center Offers More Mental Health Care Through Health Center Partnership

January 07, 2020

Mental health conditions are one of the most common experiences in the United States. Over a lifetime, one in five people will experience a mental health condition, while 75% of lifetime mental illnesses will develop by age 24. Despite this ubiquity, communities in Iowa and across the country still lack access to mental health care for a variety of reasons. There is a shortage of mental health professionals, low reimbursement rates for the services they provide, shortages of inpatient psychiatric beds, and other complicating social, cultural, and economic factors. A 2018 Iowa bill seeks to address this by opening Access Centers across the state, like the one that opened in Osceola last week, to improve access to mental health care and social support services.

Access Centers are intended to provide immediate, short-term assessments for people with serious mental illness or substance use disorders who do not need inpatient psychiatric hospital services but do need social services or support that are not readily available in their community. The Access Centers will provide or arrange these supports by working with local service providers that can help patients find housing, employment, physical care, and more.

Community Health Centers of Southern Iowa (CHCSI) recognizes this, which is why they applied for and received a grant from the state to administer this Access Center that opened on December 30, 2019. This project is a natural extension of CHCSI’s, and all health centers’ missions: to care for the whole person by assisting them with services that address the social determinants of health. The Access Center’s focus on providing enabling services, matched by CHCSI’s experience in providing similar warm hand-offs, will allay some of these difficulties.

The Access Center is estimated to serve approximately 625 patients every year, or 2,500 over the next four years. That means every single day, for 24 hours, the Osceola Access Center will be accepting any and all patients, regardless of ability to pay. We can’t wait to see how Community Health Centers of Southern Iowa improves the health of Iowans through this new partnership!