LARNED State and private inspectors, acting on complains from patients at Larned State Hospital, found conditions termed "inhumane," according to a report from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Among the findings of the state inspection were that a lack of supervision contributed to the death of a patient who choked on food - even though hospital staff members were supposed to limit her diet because she had a swallowing disorder.
The KDHE's inspection in November also found showers lacking hot water and filthy living areas, although a tour last week by a reporter and photographer from The Wichita Eagle found the living areas were cleaner and showers and sinks were putting out warmer water.
"Throughout the hospital, the governing body failed to assure that patients received care in a safe, clean and comfortable environment," the report said.
The hospital houses people with mental illness and sexual predators sent there after completing their prison sentences.
Joseph Kroll, director of KDHE's Bureau of Child Care and Health Facilities, said his agency's report "indicates a number of issues, violations of both federal and state law."
And the Joint Commission on Health Care Organizations, a private national agency, has downgraded the hospital from full to conditional accreditation based on its own inspection.
However, Larned officials and the state Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, which runs the hospital, contend that KDHE's criticisms go too far.
KDHE and SRS are close to an agreement to address the issues and make sure they do not happen again, Kroll said, adding that his department expects the problems to be corrected within six months.