County hears budget presentations and requests



The Marion County Board of Commissioners spent most of their regular Monday meeting on June 12 listening to budget presentations and funding requests. One presentation was for Prairie View from President and CEO Marcy Johnson.

Johnson said, “As we move past the pandemic and into the new now, the toll of the last three years is very real. It looks like increased depression, anxiety, suicidality. It looks like adolescents and young adults struggling with social struggles, technology addictions, lack of person connectivity and suicide as the second leading cause of death. The new world that we live in is crying out for help with mental and behavioral health needs. The demand is larger than the workforce. The problem is known, and the solution is being worked through. How do we meet the larger needs with a smaller-than-ever workforce? At Prairie View, we are making this our top priority.”

Johnson explained that Prairie View is available for the residents of Marion County regardless of their ability to pay for services.

“Our primary goal and responsibility is to ensure everyone in Marion County has access to quality mental health services. We learned over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic that community is powerful and essential to the health and well-being of all. As Prairie View shifts to the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) model, funding will improve for those with Medicaid insurance. However, it still does not address the cost to deliver services to those with underpaying insurance and no insurance,” said Johnson.

She explained that while they still offer telehealth services while also welcoming more clients into their offices for therapeutic services, they are recognizing that mental health crises/needs do not exist on a schedule. As a result, they moved to walk-in appointments effective May 15.

Johnson also shared some statistics with the board.
She said, “Prior to the pandemic, it was known that 1 in 5 Americans in the U.S. will experience mental illness in a given year. In 2020, studies showed that high levels of distress in rural communities went from 17% to 28%. The challenge of the 1 in 5 rule in rural communities is even harder to address because of unique barriers. According to Mental Health America, Kansas ranks 51st in the nation for the prevalence of mental illness in adults and 50 in adolescents. This equates to Kansas having the highest prevalence of mental illness in adults and the second highest in adolescents. These statistics remain incredibly important. The World Health Organization notes that the primary mental health issues of depression and anxiety cost the global economy $1 trillion annually. However, the median of governmental health expenditures that go to mental health is less than 2%. There is an opportunity to help the mental health industry with payment disparities.”

Johnson also shared some data related to Marion County specifically. She stated that last year, Prairie View qualified mental health professionals performed 97 evaluations to determine the need for hospitalization at a state mental health hospital. 24 of these individuals were from Marion County.

Prairie View served 594 outpatients in Marion County last year, providing over 12,000 services. 92% of those individuals were underinsured or uninsured. Over 43% of services were provided as charitable care for outpatient services in Marion County. Over the past year, Prairie View has expanded services to include Jail Liaisons, LEO support and additional SUD Services.

“Most of the patients utilizing these services will be uninsured. Furthermore, Prairie View plans to add an APRN to Access Services to better assist our patient needs,” Johnson said. “In addition to services in our outpatient clinics, Prairie View staff provide services in client homes, neighborhoods, businesses, nursing homes and schools. We also continue to be active with area pastors/chaplains, and local hospitals and provide Mental Health First Aid when requested.”

Johnson asked the board to consider awarding Prairie View $97,232 for the coming budget year.

“By continuing to ensure access to mental health and substance use treatment, the quality of life in Marion County should be better and safer,” Johnson said. “With your help, our services can continue to bring hope to those in our community.”

The board did not make any decisions regarding funding at this time.

In other business, the board:

  • heard multiple budget presentations including one from the 8th Judicial District and the health department. They also heard a presentation and received a budget request of $70,000 from Harvey-Marion County Community Developmental Disability Organization (CDDO) Executive Director Kevin Gaeddert. Of their 341 total caseloads, 270 (79%) are Harvey County residents and 71 (21%) are Marion County residents. No decisions were made.
  • heard from another internet company called Home Communications, Inc. regarding a grant for covering the Lehigh area. The board agreed to write them a letter of support along with Vyve Broadband which they heard the same request from last week.
  • heard Road & Bridge updates from County Engineer Brice Goebel.
  • met in several executive sessions. No action taken.
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