Sheriff calls out mental health center
Sheriff Jeff Soyez, not happy with services the county gets from Prairie View, had plenty of questions for the organization’s representatives when they came to Monday’s county commission meeting.
Prairie View’s director of access services, Patrick Flaming; chief financial officer, Matt Ankenbrandt; and chief executive, Marcy Johnson, came to answer questions about the community mental health agency’s services and what the county gets for its money.
The county’s money goes to support salaries and offices that provide counseling services, not to support Prairie View’s hospital, Johnson said.
Soyez asked about charges his office pays to get services needed for departmental reasons.
“We’re getting a charge of $175 for each inmate who is on psychiatric medications,” Soyez said.
Flaming said payment in those cases was not for Prairie View staff but for physicians, nurse practitioners, and others who prescribe medication.
Soyez asked why people tell him they call Prairie View for assistance and don’t hear back for weeks, if at all.
Flaming said he wanted to know about it if that happened.
The agency’s purpose is to help people before they have to be arrested, Johnson said.
Soyez asked why he could get competency evaluations for inmates from another agency sooner than Prairie View could do one.
“This has to get done before we can get them treatment,” Soyez said.
Johnson said competency evaluations were not part of Prairie View’s services.
“If we have staff available to do that, we do that,” Johnson said.
When people need a competency evaluation, they are not safe in jail and sheriff’s department employees are not safe with them, Soyez said.
“Competency is not mental health therapy,” Johnson said. “Once the person is found incompetent, then we’ll step in.”
The sheriff’s office is charged $125 each time an inmate is evaluated.
“When inmates are not provided with treatment, they are done a disservice,” Soyez said. “It’s a nasty, nasty, repetitive cycle that needs to stop.”
Soyez said that Marion County didn’t have anywhere to put people who need psychiatric treatment.
“If attention is not brought to it, it will never get better,” he said.