MASON CITY, Iowa- When the Community Health Center of Mason City opened its doors last October they knew dental care was going to be in high demand but they had no idea how severe the need for mental healthcare was going to be.
“I hired staff and didn’t know if they were going to be seeing patients right away but we’re actually looking to hire another psychiatric nurse by June or August,” said Chief Executive Officer Ranae Kruckenberg.
Kruckenberg heads up the clinic. She said they’ve already helped more than 2,000 patients in over 5,000 visits. Continuing that level of care might become difficult as they approach the end of their two-year federal funding in October.
“When that money runs out we will be paid month to month until that money runs out,” she said. "We have to plan everything for only one month and hope the next month they pass something.”
The feds fund 70% of community healthcare budgets. Now the Mason City clinic is asking Congress to move to a 5-year plan. US Congressman Steve King said that’s a reasonable idea but will still likely face turmoil.
“There is too much polarization going on in Congress right now,” Congressman King stated, “Our funding is just herky-jerky with continuing resolutions and not the level of predictability that they need.”
The new budget doesn’t have to be decided until October of this year. Kruckenberg and her crew will continue to help those in the North Iowa area as they hold out hope for more stable funding.
“You’re not able to provide 2500 visits on just 30% of your budget,” she said.