Mental health unit funded by Craighead County

JONESBORO, Ark. – One of the most long-talked about and needed additions to Northeast Arkansas was funded at last night’s Quorum Court meeting.

$700,000 was unanimously appropriated by all JPs in a vote last night. The money is now set aside for construction. Architects Little & Associates estimate this as the cost of building the facility. $282,000 now remains in the county capital fund.

The money isn’t just coming from locally. A $1.6 million grant was announced by Governor Asa Hutchinson in 2017 which will help fund the operations of the facility.

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Mid-South Health Systems plans to staff the facility, said Ruth Allen Dover, Mid-South CEO. She told the court that they intended to staff the facility for the first year without asking for any additional money.

Because the location would be ran by an outside company, the county’s liability would be deferred to Mid-South, said County Judge Marvin Day.

Much of last night’s discussion centered around continual funding of the center. Current hopes are for at least several patients each month to qualify for Medicaid reimbursements. But since the governor implemented his work requirement program, over 16,000 Arkansans have lost their Medicaid coverage. While no studies have specifically shown this, it stands to reason those with mental health woes could have more difficulty regularly reporting work (and still risking losing coverage if they did it wrong).

Annual expenses could reach $2 million, Dover said. Much of the budget will depend on billable payer sources for patients – like Medicaid.

Bids are expected to be advertised starting March 7 with bidding beginning on March 21.

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