Allegations of violence delay hearing to potentially build mental health facility in Bettendorf

ANKENY, Iowa --  A company looking to add a new mental health hospital in Bettendorf was the center of discussion at a 10-hour long hearing on Tuesday, October 11, 2016.  That meeting came to a halt when alleged complaints of violence at the company's existing facilities were presented.

Dozens of people attended a hearing Tuesday, October 11, 2016.  It was clear that there is a massive split between those who are for it and those who are against it.

Healthcare organization Strategic Behavioral Health, asked the Iowa Health Facilities Council to approve a proposal to build a 72-bed in-patient mental health hospital in Bettendorf. The facility would be aimed at improving overall mental health care for the community.

Some believe, however, that it's the wrong plan for the Quad Cities, and that it wouldn't meet the needs of the region.

Leaders from Genesis and Trinity argue that they can fill that need themselves.

"We don't need additional beds, we need these other things, we need this effective coordinated care," said psychologist David McEchron. "If we go running off adding beds, we're gonna lose this (services already in the Quad Cities) and this is really what we need."

Mayor Bob Gallagher from Bettendorf was there, saying that their opposition doesn't come from what's best for patients, but what's best for profits.

"On this issue, they've got a different position and that's the one  that relates to their own financial benefit in their businesses," Gallagher said. "It's the beuracratic position to keep what's theirs and to say "no" to change."

Gallagher also expressed concern that Genesis and Trinity leaders have been pressuring the community over the past few months to take their side on the issue.

"Absolutely they have lobbied us, and we've felt the pressure. Take a look at surrounding cities who wrote letters and pulled them back and school districts who've pulled them back. They didn't do it because they changed their minds on their own. These people are pressuring our community. Please don't gate keep good people who want to provide great service to the folks in our area who I represent," says Gallagher.

Toward the end of the meeting, leaders from Genesis presented documents that allegedly point to claims of violence at three Strategic Behavioral Healthcare facilities.  The documents include more than 80 complaints over the last two years.

Meeting organizers decided to halt the meeting to give the council time to go over these presented documents.

The meeting will resume on October 27th.