Archive for Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Editorial: Mental health needs

Kansas needs more than a short-term solution for its overcrowded mental health facilities.

November 25, 2014

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The closure in recent years of several mental health facilities has left Kansas with just two in-patient facilities for patients with severe mental illness. Now, one of those facilities, Osawatomie State Hospital, is in danger of losing its ability to claim Medicare reimbursements if it doesn’t address deficiencies by Dec. 5.

Chief among those deficiencies apparently is a chronic problem with overcrowding at Osawatomie, which also can contribute to treatment and personnel problems at the hospital. The facility is licensed to serve 206 patients, but when surveyors from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment visited the hospital on Oct. 20, it had 250 patients. In many instances that meant three patients were living in rooms designed for two people. By Oct. 29, the hospital’s census was down to 235 patients.

Representatives of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services say they have put together a plan for corrective action and are confident the hospital won’t lose its Medicare certification. The primary plan for reducing the census at Osawatomie is to look for ways to move patients into psychiatric beds in community hospitals or transition them to services provided by the state’s 26 licensed community mental health centers like Bert Nash Mental Health Center in Lawrence.

This strategy raises a number of questions. How many “community” hospitals in Kansas have psychiatric units. Lawrence Memorial Hospital closed its unit a number of years ago, in part, because of the difficulty of keeping enough psychiatrists to staff the unit. It seems that any hospital smaller than LMH would have similar issues.

Transitioning people with mental illness into out-patient community services has been a goal for many years, but it isn’t always practical. Most of the people at Osawatomie are there because they have been declared dangerous to themselves or others. The services offered by a community mental health center may not be enough for them.

In addition, state funding for those community centers has been slashed in recent years. Many are struggling to maintain services for their current clients without taking on the additional burden of people with serious mental illness because state hospitals are overcrowded.

Even if Osawatomie is able to meet the Dec. 5 deadline and retain its Medicare funding, it probably won’t be long before the facility is once again over its licensed capacity. KDADS officials say other states are dealing with similar problems, but that doesn’t mean the situation in Kansas is OK. Providing appropriate care for people with mental illness is a matter of public safety as well as individual quality of life. Kansas needs to find a long-range solution to what obviously is a chronic problem.

Comments

Bob Forer 2 years, 12 months ago

"The primary plan for reducing the census at Osawatomie is to look for ways to move patients into psychiatric beds in community hospitals or transition them to services provided by the state’s 26 licensed community mental health centers like Bert Nash Mental Health Center in Lawrence."

That plan has been in place since the State closed most of its mental health facilities. Community hospitals simply don't have the wherewithal to treat the chronically mentally ill, nor do community mental health centers. That's why many of them end up in jail or prison, at a far greater cost, which is borne at the local, as opposed to state level.

The only tenable plan is to reopen closed facilities. But as long as the Koch boys and their ilk are driven by a sociopathic urge to accumulate more and more money than they could spend in dozens of lifes, and continue to hijack the ;public electoral process with so-called "think tanks" and millions in soft money contributions, things aren't going to change--unless and until the majoirty of voters realize that politicians such as Sam Brownback serve the super weatlhy, and not the orindary citizen.

Rick Cagan 2 years, 11 months ago

We support an approach which provides investments for more robust community-based treatment options for Community Mental Health Centers as well as an expansion of community-based beds for short-term stays for individuals in crisis. This is a more cost-effective approach for individuals which maintains them closer to home and which avoids more expensive inpatient hospitalization for those who don't need it. The crisis treatment facility now operating in the former Rainbow Mental Health Facility in Kansas City (now Rainbow Services Inc) and serving Wyandotte and Johnson Counties, could be expanded to provide support for Douglas County residents. Better yet, we should develop that type of treatment capacity on a smaller, local scale in Lawrence.

Rick Cagan NAMI Kansas

Paul R Getto 2 years, 12 months ago

"Providing appropriate care for people with mental illness is a matter of public safety as well as individual quality of life. Kansas needs to find a long-range solution to what obviously is a chronic problem."

Interesting and true, but much worse is to come in a broken State. You supported the candidate who will lead budget cuts in all institutions. This will lead to many public safety issues. Get used to it; it is too late to whine.

John Sickels 2 years, 12 months ago

What is Dave Trabert's free market KPI libertarian freedom solution to this problem?

It is about time that psychiatric patients learn to be more efficient. We need value for our tax dollars. Why do doctors and therapists continue to waste taxpayer money? Shouldn't someone with schizophrenia or severe debilitating depression or suicidal thoughts learn to be more pro-freedom and liberty?

With KPI's proposed mental health enhancement system, patients will be given a 5 cent voucher for psychiatric health services which can be redeemed at any nearby Lucy Van Pelt free market pro-liberty counseling center.

Our KPI spreadsheet shows that such a system will improve outcomes by 27.2674732% while reducing taxpayer expenditures by 917884.2227%.

Kate Rogge 2 years, 12 months ago

LOL. Yeah! Why don't the disabled and handicapped just stand up for themselves? Eat more vegetables and go for a run now and then?

Kate Rogge 2 years, 12 months ago

Where is Angela de la Rocha to explain why Brownback's administration has closed mental facilities, underfunded and overpopulated the remaining facilities to the point that Osawatomie may lose its Medicare certification December 5th? Destroying state services may fit nicely into this administrations' fantasies about government, but they remain fantasies nonetheless.

Government is all of us coming together to provide public services that none of us can provide alone. Government care of those in need of care (the poor, children, elderly, and the physically and mentally disabled among us) is our responsibility and is not to be abrogated by the State by pushing its statewide responsibilities on to communities and families who are unable to provide safe and adequate care.

The Denver Post is running a series about Colorado's broken mental health services that is applicable to Kansas: http://extras.denverpost.com/mentalillness/#health

John Sickels 2 years, 12 months ago

People like Trabert, Brownback, and de la Rocha see places like Colorado and Texas as models to follow, not disasters to be avoided.

ALL they care about is reducing taxes. They care about nothing else. They think they will be safe and protected in their gated communities and country clubs and think tanks from the vicissitudes of life while the unwashed rabble and people who don't subscribe to their twisted false religion of mammon suffer .

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