Commissioners OK detox contract

NEW ULM — Brown County Commissioners unanimously approved the 2020 Brown County Evaluation Center (detoxification) contract Tuesday.

Approval came on a motion by Commissioner Jeff Veerkamp, seconded by Commissioner Tony Berg. The 2020 contract rate is $433 a day, up 3.8% from this year. It includes a 3% employee cost-of-living hike. The remaining increase comes from insurance costs, Brown County Evaluation Center Executive Director Amanda Schuknecht said.

Brown County is the host county for the evaluation center utilized by many surrounding counties. There are limited facilities of this type across the state.

Schuknecht became the new facility executive director in August. She and business manager Royce Wempen discussed changes and challenges in the program over the past year and ideas for increasing program use.

From January through September 2019, 790 patients came to detox, compared to 871 for the same period last year.

“Service days are down this year, but we plan to raise [services] in 2020,” Schuknecht said.

“I’m enthused you are interested in dealing with juveniles,” said Commissioner and New Ulm Police Chief Dave Borchert. “That will save us (law enforcement) hours and hours of transport time.”

“We’ve discussed having meth patients and ensuring services are available,” Schuknecht said.

“I’m excited about the possibilities of Amanda’s leadership,” Brown County Human Services Director Barb Dietz said.

Borchert said he sees more detox challenges than there was 20 years ago.

“We’re seeing higher alcohol levels and sicker people now,” Borchert said.

Schuknecht said she’s seeing clients with methamphetamines, cocaine and marijuana mixed together.

“I’m looking at connecting with resident services and reducing recidivism (the tendency of a convicted criminal to reoffend),” she said.

Commissioners unanimously approved:

• A $193,129 2020 Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) Employment Services Contract with Minnesota Valley Action Council (MVAC), motion by Commissioner Dean Simonsen, seconded by Berg.

Brown County’s original calendar year 2020 allocation is $285,980 with a $7,149 performance-based bonus. The calendar year 2019 grant was $256,000.

The grant is divided into three parts at the county’s discretion: $193,129 for MVAC employment services administration, $60,000 county agency staff eligibility work and $40,000 in emergency assistance.

• A South Country Health Alliance annual report from CEO Leota Lind.

“After a very challenging year in 2018, we took everything unnecessary out of the budget, so we’re pretty close to budget now,” Lind said. “Last year, we had very high costs with six transplants and a very expensive flu season. Now 2020 is a work in progress. It will have challenges. We’ll continue to keep a close eye on the budget, take a positive trend and continue to build resources.”

“You’ve done a fabulous job,” said Commissioner Scott Windschitl.

Lind said South Country will continue to raise awareness of county-based purchasing.

“It’ll be one of our top issues going into the 2020 Legislative session,” said Lind. “Our staff is very dedicated.”

“That’s great to hear,” said Borchert.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.