Dubuque County selling facility for people with mental illness - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque County selling facility for people with mental illness

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Dubuque County supervisors are selling the Julien Care Facility Dubuque County supervisors are selling the Julien Care Facility
DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

One eastern Iowa facility for people with mental illness is up for sale.

The land and building of the Julien Care Facility is currently owned by Dubuque County, but the idea of a change in ownership has some people concerned.

The aging building faces tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in possible repairs, so Dubuque County supervisors put it up for sale.

Since 2006, Developing Alternative Choices, or DAC, Inc., has operated the program at Julien Care Facility. The company is based in Maquoketa.

Dave Smith is DAC's director of Dubuque operations.

"We're real excited about the prospect of continuing, you know, to provide a good, quality service and then assume ownership and finally kind of make investments in the building and bring it up to date from a comfort standpoint and just modernize and make a nicer facility in which to provide services," Smith said.

DAC bid $1 million on the building. The other group interested in buying Julien Care Facility from the county is Hillcrest Family Services, which is based in Dubuque and bid about $1.2 million on the building.

"We would not get into this if we didn't think we could do a good job," Hillcrest president and CEO Gary Gansemer said.

Right now, Hillcrest rents from the county two wings at Julien Care Facility for an emergency shelter, which Gansemer said the organization has been doing since 2002. He said the shelter typically houses about seven people per day.

If DAC got the contract, Smith said, "Where Hillcrest is currently located with their shelter, we'd work with them to seek an alternative to that wing, and then we would expand into that with the adult services."

Some people have expressed concern that clients residing at Julien Care Facility would undergo changes if Hillcrest won the contract.

"I would think that there would be some changes in approaches, but we have no plans to move clients," Gansemer said.

There is also concern about a big staff turnover if program implementation moves from DAC to Hillcrest.

"If we get the contract," Gansemer said, Hillcrest would, "take a look at the services needed, make sure that the people have the qualifications to provide those level of services, make sure we have enough staff there to provide that."

He said Hillcrest would consider expanding the number of staff members at the facility.

"We have a very active treatment philosophy, and we want to make sure that the staff who want to work there under that treatment philosophy do," Gansemer said. "But if people do not want that philosophy, they may have to make a decision themselves."

Julien Care Facility is classified as an RCF and RCF/PMI, which stand for Resident Care Facility and Resident Care Facility for Persons with Mental Illness.

"We've been running a similar service in Ottumwa, Iowa since 2001," Gansemer said. "We want to go in and provide the best, proactive service that the clients need."

Smith said if DAC got to buy the building, "We would expand the number of PMI beds that we have. There's a real demand across the state for that."

Dubuque County supervisors received the two bids and asked the groups to return to the drawing table to submit new proposals detailing their respective programs, including assurance the new owner would continue the same kinds of services Julien Care Facility is already providing to clients.

In addition, supervisors said they're looking at the daily rate each organization would charge for clients. Currently at Julien Care Facility, 40 to 50 percent of the residents are county clients, at the facility through taxpayer dollars. Smith said Julien Care Facility currently has a maximum capacity of 72 RCF clients, for which the daily rate is $95, and nine RCF/PMI residents, who pay $115 per day.

Dubuque County supervisor Eric Manternach said supervisors expect the daily rate to increase no matter which of the two organizations takes over, since it would be responsible for paying for building updates. That's currently that county's burden. Possible building upgrades include the roof, sprinkler system and boilers.

"We have two good organizations asking to be considered for the continued operation of it, and I'm confident that whosever chosen, that it will be better for the clients served at the Julien Care Facility," Gansemer said.

The re-submittal deadline is May 1.

Dubuque County also owns Sunnycrest Manor. All of the residents there are county clients, whose daily rate the county pays with taxpayer dollars. The county runs the programming at this facility and supervisors said they currently have no plans to sell it.

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