Cottonwood's rebound

Thursday, June 3, 2004

Cottonwood Children's Residential Treatment Center in Cape Girardeau begins its fiscal year July 1 healthier than ever after surviving a near death-blow from the state.

The mental health treatment facility not only is open but will operate with a budget nearly $117,000 greater in fiscal year 2005 than in fiscal year 2004. That new budget is $2.38 million.

Gov. Bob Holden had recommended closing the center as part of a broader cost-cutting plan, a move met with dismay by parents of the children with emotional and behavioral problems treated at the center. If Cottonwood closed, they faced the prospect of having to travel to an adult psychiatric facility in Farmington to see their children.

The 85 employees of the 32-bed center also were understandably unhappy with the plan.

Ultimately the governor worked with House majority floor leader Jason Crowell and Senate president pro tem Peter Kinder, both from Cape Girardeau, to devise a funding solution that incorporates federal Medicaid dollars -- $823,000 in the next budget, a huge savings to the state.

At one time, Crowell proposed hiring more doctors and providing 24-hour medical care at the Sprigg Street facility in order to qualify for Medicaid funding. That turned out to be unnecessary.

Cottonwood obviously has powerful support for its mission. It was good for the state to see the governor and its top legislators working together to find this necessary solution.

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