Hillcrest Family Services to keep Washington location open

7 programs closing statewide as board cites financial instability

Following a board vote on Thursday, March 7, Hillcrest Family Services announced the closure of multiple locations statewide, including Mt. Pleasant, citing financial instability.

“The Hillcrest board is determining where their financial issues are occurring and it’s a financial decision,” said Mental Health and Disability Services Director/Coordinator of Disability Services for Washington County, Bobbie Wulf. “This is going to be devastating to the community.”

She said the Washington location will remain open and has not officially confirmed but is actively preparing to take in those who will no longer have a place for therapy. The foster group care program in Dubuque and supported community living programs in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids are also expected to close.

Julie Heiderscheit, president and CEO of Hillcrest, said in an interview with the GTNS News Team last week, that Hillcrest has three separate locations within the Southeast Iowa Region, with locations in Henry, Louisa and Washington counties, and keeping all three of them open is not financially possible.

“Unfortunately, the ongoing sustainability of the agency as a whole is what is forcing these heart-wrenching decisions,” she said. “Pray for a miracle and things can change.”

Hillcrest board member Tim Runde said the Mt. Pleasant office is expected to close within the next six months. He said the board already voted to close several programs due to lack of funding and the decision to close the facility as a whole was not one the board took lightly.

“The board wanted it on the record that it was with great sadness and difficulty we made this decision,” Runde said. “There’s a need, there’s probably more need than ever for mental health services, and those people don’t go away. Where they show up is in the Emergency Room or the Sheriff’s Office, and they find other ways to deal with their problems.”

Wulf said the board is actively looking to speak with legislators to see what options are available to keep the facilities open.

“It’s something we’re going to have to do a lot of work with our partners for. Hopefully we’ll be able to get somewhere with the Legislature,” she said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to advocate to get something accomplished here.”

Grace King contributed to this story.