Archive for Sunday, May 8, 2011

Hays example

If the medical center in Hays can find a way to offer even limited inpatient mental health care, perhaps Lawrence Memorial Hospital officials should try again to provide similar care.

May 8, 2011


Officials at Lawrence Memorial Hospital may be interested in a news item from Hays.

The Hays Medical Center announced last week that it would open a new inpatient psychiatric facility this summer for people 65 and older. Medical center leaders said the decision was made to respond to a special need in their area. The center sees up to five older patients a day who are in need of inpatient mental health services. The only option now is to send them up to 100 miles away to Abilene and Kinsley and most facilities have waiting lists.

The new 15-bed Hays facility is scheduled to open July 1, according to a news report, but patients will be admitted sooner if they are judged to be a threat to themselves or others.

Lawrence currently has no inpatient psychiatric facility for people of any age. LMH closed its mental health unit in 2004, because officials said that they were having trouble hiring psychiatrists to staff the unit and that the volume of patients didn’t justify such a facility.

There probably are significant differences in the situations faced in Lawrence and Hays, but there also seem to be some similarities. Lawrence has some inpatient facilities that are closer than 100 miles, but that doesn’t mean space will be available, especially with state funding cutbacks.

Although LMH cited hiring problems, Hays Medical Center was able to a hire a psychiatrist and expects to add 21 full-time equivalent positions to staff the new 15-bed facility. The fact that the facility will be restricted to people 65 and older isn’t ideal, but it’s a start and probably serves a special need among the aging population of many rural Kansas areas.

The point is that Hays saw a need and tried to address it. LMH officials certainly have done that in other treatment areas. They have gone to considerable effort and expense to hire additional doctors to expand cardiac services and provide radiation and chemotherapy services that many patients once had to travel to Topeka or Kansas City to obtain. Why not mental health care? In 2007, LMH reported that about 30 patients a month need to be transferred to Topeka or Kansas City hospitals for mental health care, but that was deemed insufficient to justify revisiting the issue of inpatient mental health care.

It would be sad if this boiled down to a purely financial issue, that perhaps providing mental health care simply isn’t as good for the hospital’s bottom line as providing cardiac or cancer care. Mental illness supposedly has come out of its historical shadows, but the need to provide mental health care still appears to be undervalued.

If the Hays Medical Center can figure out a way to support even limited inpatient services for mental health care, it seems LMH should at least make another effort to find a way to provide such services here in Lawrence.


Steve Jacob 7 years, 1 month ago

I have said this before, but why do you think LMH dumped the mental health unit and added the cancer center? People who have cancer have much better insurance then people who need the mental heath unit.

pinecreek 7 years, 1 month ago

" LMH closed its mental health unit in 2004, because officials said that they were having trouble hiring psychiatrists to staff the unit and that the volume of patients didn’t justify such a facility."

The other part of the story is that the psychiatrists already in this community would not take call to support evaluations and admissions. If you cannot staff all parts of the unit (whether full-time or on-call), you shouldn't operate it.

Suggestion to the writer--get a public commitment from the current mental health community in Douglas County that they will play ball, then report back to the public. The administration of any hospital can do only as much as its specialists will enable it to do.

Bassetlover 7 years, 1 month ago

AMEN!!! Finally, the voice of reason. This has always been a staffing issue from the very beginning. As for the comparison to the Hays hospital, this is hardly apples and oranges.

akt2 7 years, 1 month ago

If they did ever attempt it again, they would have to put revolving doors in because it would be the same patients over and over. They would be bringing their suitcases with them when they checked in at the ER.

whats_going_on 7 years, 1 month ago

Hays is the a**hole of this Earth.

Not a productive statement, but it had to be said.

deec 7 years, 1 month ago

Ah, it's not that bad. Except the ag farm stench when the wind blows...and it blows all the time. Seriously, I lived there for 4 years, and it's just a typical little college rural town that wants to be a big town.

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