The seeds for Plains Area Mental Health Center were planted in 1965 when a Community Mental Health Center meeting was sponsored by the Le Mars JayCees. Because of the amount of community interest shown at that meeting, it was decided that the needs of the community professionals related to mental health would be surveyed. Interest in a community mental health center continued to grow and the needs assessment was accomplished in 1966. But in 1967 these plans were set aside because of the community’s attention was directed toward making the local private hospital a community hospital.
During the spring of 1970, there was a renewed interest in establishing a mental health center as a result of community concern about the involvement of area young people with drugs. On May 12, 1970, an exploratory meeting was held in which interested community professionals and other citizens met to discuss the idea and assess community support.
The Mental Health Planning Committee emerged from that meeting and began gathering relevant statistics. Also, plans were made to do another needs assessment study of the community. At this time, the interest in establishing a community mental health center focused in Plymouth County because attempts to involve other counties failed. Supported by the data gathered from the completed needs assessment and spurred by community interest, an organizational meeting was held November 16, 1971, followed by a second one on November 30, 1971, at which a Board of Directors was nominated.
In April of 1972, the Plains Area Mental Health Center opened its doors on a one day a week basis and began serving the residents of Plymouth County. Office space was donated by Floyd Valley Hospital in Le Mars. Its staff included one part-time psychologist, a consulting psychiatrist, a part-time social worker, and a part-time secretary. Because of the need for more
professional time, a full-time person, who served as both executive director and psychologist, was added to the center staff on January 1, 1973. During the first year, 166 patients were seen with an annual budget of approximately $18,000. Services included individual and couple counseling and family therapy.
During 1976 the Center moved from the old Floyd Valley Hospital to the basement of the new Le Mars Floyd Valley Hospital. The Center occupied about 1100 square feet of the hospital basement.
In 1977 interested citizens of Sioux and Cherokee Counties approached the Board of Directors regarding establishment of community mental health services in their areas. Part-time services began in Sioux County during November 1977. The Cherokee County office opened for service in July of 1978.
The Sioux County Board of Supervisors had been funding both Plains Area Mental Health Center and Bethesda Midwest on a part-time basis. Plains Area Services to Sioux County ended in June of 1981 with the decision of the Supervisors to fund Bethesda Midwest exclusively. However, services to Sioux County resumed with the fiscal year beginning July, 1993 because the Supervisors decided to again fund Plains Area. The majority of services to Sioux County are provided through subcontract with Creative Living Center, a group of private practitioners headquartered in Rock Valley.
During May of 1983, an agreement was entered into between the Plains Area Board and the Ida County Supervisors to provide community mental health services to Ida County residents. First patients were seen in Ida Grove on July 1, 1983.
In 1985, PAMHC and Floyd Valley Hospital developed plans for an inpatient psychiatric program. In 1987, the Center signed a contract with FVH for the hospital to provide management services and psychiatric services to the Center. FVH, in turn, contracted with OMNI Healthcare to provide this personnel and to staff and manage a psychiatric inpatient program for the hospital. In April, 1988 the position of Executive Director was filled by an OMNI employee, who also served as the Program Director of the FVH Psychiatric Inpatient Program. In July, 1988 the inpatient program opened with an interim psychiatrist who also served PAMHC. A permanent psychiatrist was brought to the area by OMNI in September, 1988. That psychiatrist left in December, 1988 and was replaced in February, 1989. The contract between OMNI and FVH was terminated in February, 1989 and the Executive Director became an employee of PAMHC. The Executive Director and Assistant Director were contracted back to FVH on a part-time basis to continue management of the inpatient program. The second psychiatrist left in September, 1989. A replacement psychiatrist could not be secured and FVH closed the inpatient program in October 1989. The Executive Director position became full-time with the Center and the Assistant Director’s position was eliminated with the person serving that position becoming a full-time clinical staff member.
In July of 1990, the Plains Area Mental Health Center moved from the basement of Floyd Valley Hospital to the present location at 21 1st Avenue NE in downtown Le Mars. The Crossroads Center also moved from the Mini-mall to join the outpatient program. The administrative offices, outpatient program, Community Support Program and the Day Treatment Program are now all located in one location in Le Mars.
PAMHC continued to grow, with more consumers came more staff, with changes in managed care and technology came more staff. Overcrowding and lack of sufficient office space developed.
In 2001 the City of Le Mars received a grant to renovate the Weidler Building on the old Westmar Campus in Le Mars. The grant was designed to house non-profit organizations. Plains Area Mental Health Center, Mid Sioux Opportunity, Alzheimer’s Association, and Le Mars Day Care would occupy this renovated building, which would be called the Weidler Community Service Center. On May 30, 2003, the Le Mars office of PAMHC moved to 180 10th St SE, Suite 201 at the Weidler Community Service Center.
Also in May of the same year, plans began for the relocation of the Cherokee office of PAMHC. In November of 2003, the Cherokee office moved to 900 North Second Street, Suite A.
July of 2004 Sioux County chose to contract with Creative Living Center in Rock Valley for mental health services. Plains Area Mental Health Center continues to hold offices in Orange City for outpatient and psychiatric services for those who wish to continue with Plains Area. With this change the Senior Care Program was started in which our psychiatrist goes directly to various nursing homes to provide psychiatric care to residents.
February of 2005, Plains Area began services in Storm Lake at the Buena Vista Regional Medical Center one day a week.
March of 2005 Plains Area began its ACES (Accessing Counseling in Educational Settings) Program in Plymouth County.
In the year of 2006 Plains Area began the Free On-Line Mental Health Screenings for Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Eating Disorders and Alcohol Use. In 2006 we began offering an employee assistance program named “Solutions EAP”. This service is available to employers within our service area and provides an additional low cost, highly effective employer sponsored benefit program. In an effort to better reflect the service image of the Center, we initiated a logo change that removed the “perceived” service area our former logo conveyed. Finally in response to changes in state programs, we initiated a new program “Remedial Services” which began in January, 2007.
Early in 2008 Plains Area Mental Health was approached by the Buena Vista County Supervisors to contract with them for services. In July of 2008 Plains Area Mental Health, Inc. opened its doors full time in Storm Lake, Iowa. Staff included a receptionist, one full time therapist, a part time ARNP and a physician.