Archive for Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Osawatomie State Hospital faces overcrowding; expansion unlikely because of state budget

October 22, 2008


— A tightening state budget raised concerns Wednesday about conditions at a Kansas mental health hospital.

Osawatomie State Hospital has been at or over patient capacity this year, while plans to expand the facility and hire more people to handle the increased workload have been put on hold, officials said.

"My understanding is that we have a hospital that is stressed out," said state Sen. Pat Apple, R-Louisburg. "It seems to me that we are getting to the breaking point as far as safety for our patients and safety for our staff."

Don Jordan, secretary of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, said the agency is trying to maintain safety while managing through several budget issues.

"We have a lot of priorities," he told members of a House-Senate committee studying social service funding.

He noted that Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has called on state agencies to reduce current fiscal year spending by 2 percent because of projected shortfalls in revenue.

Jordan said that means SRS had to put its hospitals on notice that it would not be able to provide any additional funding should they spend more than their budgeted allotment.

This has led hospitals to tighten their spending, he said.

And, he said, remodeling of a building at Osawatomie, which would have provided room for 30 more patients, has been put on hold because the Legislature approved only a half-year of funding for the facility.

It wouldn't have made sense, Jordan said, to open the additional building in the current budget climate.

Osawatomie State Hospital has a capacity of 176 patients, and it has been running from 160 patients to 190 patients during the year, officials said.

Larned State Hospital's sex predator treatment program also is getting overcrowded, Jordan said.


ymmij 9 years, 8 months ago

God forbid if the State of Kansas would open another addition onto a building for the mentally ill and not have the money to staff the facility. Such is the case at Larned State Hospital. At what point will the State of Kansas understand the mental health system in this state is broken and take definite steps to fix it. At some point the State of Kansas has to realize that "county jails" can no longer serve as"mental health institutions." There have been workable alternatives in front of the legislature within the past year that were not funded due to other priorities. I testified twice last year in front of separate legislative committes and truly felt one of them cared. The other paid no more attention to not only my presentation but ignored the presentations of others before and after me. Pressure on our local politicians is needed. During this election year how many times have you heard those seeking a political post talk in detail about the mental health system? Not many I am sure.

Deja Coffin 9 years, 8 months ago

I have family in Osawatomie. Release the patients into the community, I promise you nobody would notice.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.