Indigent burials will be cremation only, doubles amount covered by county

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


With four months left of the fiscal year, Henry County has reached its limit on indigent burials at a time when Supervisors were in discussion to change the ordinance to allow for more.

At the Board of Supervisors meeting on Thursday, Feb. 22, funeral home directors were in attendance to voice their concern over the current ordinance, which has caused them to take on the extra cost beyond the dollar amount paid for by the county when families request they do more.

Present was Katherine Brumwell, director of Elliott Chapel in New London; Jeff Murphy, director of Murphy Funeral Home and Monument Sales; and Tim Olson, director of Olson-Powell Memorial Chapel. Mark Kimzey, director of Kimzey Funeral Home, was not present but sent a letter to the board.

After discussion with the funeral directors, Supervisors agreed to change the ordinance to allow for up to 20 indigent burials in Henry County each fiscal year. Each burial will cost $1,000. Anything over and above that will be a conversation between the family and the funeral home, County Auditor Shelly Barber said.

While the current ordinance didn?t limit what could or couldn?t be done, the new ordinance will now require that if a funeral is being paid for by the county, the body must be cremated. The funeral home will remove the body from place of death, deliver it to the crematory and ensure there are permits for cremation. A basic urn will be provided.

The new ordinance will go into effect March 13. Although all of the burials for the 2018 fiscal year are used, Barber said that if someone meets the requirements, the county will continue to care for indigent burials as needed.

In other news, Supervisors approved a request for an exception to the general assistance policy. In an ordinance that is used to provide help for rent and utilities for residents, Sarah Berndt, Coordinator of Disability Services (CDC), requested an exception to the policy.

An Henry County resident needed $250 assistance to go from living in a residential care facility to a community-based support facility. Berndt said that she felt it would be in the person?s best interest that the county assist in this transition even though the facilities are outside of Henry County.

?The individual didn?t lose their residence in Henry County,? Berndt explained in a phone call after the Supervisor?s meeting. ?They were a resident when they went into the residential care facility.?

Supervisors also approved the Statement of Understanding with Southeast Iowa Link (SEIL). As a county employee, Berndt also works on behalf of SEIL to keep an eye on legislative action and serve as a support service person for regional mental health services.

Chris Betsworth, therapist at Hillcrest Family Services, attended the meeting with Berndt to give an update about the services they have been providing to the county. This includes same-day crisis appointments for people who might need to be seen immediately and also provides 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. crisis support services in the emergency department at Henry County Health Center (HCHC).