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Estle reports on emergency preparedness

JON GILRAIN/Ledger photo

Jefferson County Public Health administrator Chris Estle, right, discusses emergency preparedness with the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors during their weekly meeting Monday in the courthouse. From left are supervisors Lee Dimmitt, Dee Sandquist and Dick Reed, and Jefferson County Veterans Affairs director Ray Chambers.
JON GILRAIN/Ledger photo Jefferson County Public Health administrator Chris Estle, right, discusses emergency preparedness with the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors during their weekly meeting Monday in the courthouse. From left are supervisors Lee Dimmitt, Dee Sandquist and Dick Reed, and Jefferson County Veterans Affairs director Ray Chambers.

The Jefferson County Supervisors met Monday to hear updates from state and county officials on the topics of family therapy in the juvenile court system and local and regional emergency preparedness.

Emergency preparedness

Jefferson County Public Health administrator Chris Estle was on hand to brief the board on the current state of Emergency Preparedness Service Area 5B, of which the county is a part. These service areas are funded through the state and composed of groups of regionally local counties.

The 5B service area is composed of seven counties in southeast Iowa, including Jefferson. The area provides funds for education, training, exercises and for developing and maintaining a high degree of cooperation between area members and other local services and resources.

“It’s not about reinventing the wheel and it’s not about wasting time or spinning our wheels,” Estle said. “It’s trying to get everybody on the same page as far as preparedness and how we use services that are already in place.”

Iowa’s service areas are composed of local hospitals and public health departments which operate with each other through the service area and in turn coordinate with other local emergency services to develop coordinated response and management programs.

“We’re going to have a tabletop exercise this week where we get our community partners together, such as fire, EMS, law enforcement, hospital, public health and other private entities as well, including the nursing homes, assisted-living and the dialysis center,” she explained.

According to the state of Iowa’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management web site, Iowa has experienced 43 presidentially declared disasters from 1990 to 2018, and 61 declarations total.

Iowa’s leading hazards are associated with severe weather. Iowa has also been affected by hazardous material spills both at fixed facilities and from transportation accidents.

Functional family therapy

Iowa Juvenile Court Officer Troy Seeley spoke with the board about the functional family therapy program which Iowa’s juvenile court system has begun implementing to reduce both recidivism and improve outcomes for families.

Seeley supervises 13 juvenile court officers in district 8A in Iowa’s juvenile court system, which includes Jefferson and nine other counties in southeast Iowa. The juvenile detention center for the district is in Montrose. Jefferson County pays about $160 per day per detained juvenile.

The juvenile court system works closely with county supervisors, DHS staff and other public and private stakeholders on DECAT boards. DECAT refers to decategorization of funds out of more restrictive funding silos into programs that meet the needs of local communities.

The juvenile court system works with local stakeholders to spend the available funding into services which are more preventive, family centered, and community-based in order to reduce use of restrictive approaches that rely on institutional, out-of-home, and out-of-community care, according to the Iowa department of human services website.

One such program, the new functional family therapy (FFT) program, provides an intensive regimen of therapy for juvenile offenders with all members of the family over a period of three to six months depending on the individual needs and situation of the family.

“The JCOs have already expressed that it’s been great. We’ve got families that have been resistant to other things we’ve tried with them. And, we can defer costs with electronic monitoring in lieu of detention,” said Seeley.