Comment history

Kansas governor plans $63M in budget changes

Mr. Freeman, KDADS is not reducing anyone's services. KDADS believes it has adequate resources to offer services this fiscal year to ALL individuals currently on the PD waiver waiting list without the additional funding. By the end of November the agency believes it will have reached its target enrollment of 6,100 for the PD waiver and the waiting list will have been eliminated. The time that individuals are on the PD waiting list has been reduced to less than a year. When the process began three years ago, five-year long waits were not uncommon.
Angela de Rocha, Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services

July 30, 2015 at 7:35 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Editorial: Bad to worse

Your interpretation of the staffing levels at Osawatomie State Hospital is not accurate. Staffing levels there are based on a census of 206 or higher, when actually the census now is down in the low 140s and likely to stay that way until the renovations are complete. The former employee’s story you cite reflects a past situation when there were 250 or so patients at the hospital. Both hospitals are staffed at levels that allow us to provide appropriate patient care.
Angela de Rocha, Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services

June 12, 2015 at 5:53 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Kansas AG asks federal court to strike down labor rules for home health workers

A clarification: The workers who are at issue in this court case are not "health care workers." These are direct service workers who provide companionship and assist the elderly or individuals with disabilities with meal preparation, laundry and other household tasks. They do not provide medical care, nor are they trained to do so. Many provide sleep support, that is, they spend the night in the individual's home so if help is needed, someone is there to assist with going to the toilet and other actions the consumer cannot perform unassisted. Many of these workers ARE the friends and family of the individuals who need assistance to continue to live in their homes and communities. The individuals, whose care is referred to as "self-directed," choose those who come into their homes to assist them. The state does not assign the workers unless the individual asks the state to do so, in which case the workers are not subject to the existing exemption because they would be direct employees of the state. Direct service workers' hours are carefully monitored through KS AuthentiCare, a state-wide electronic visit verification system for home-based services that has been endorsed as a Promising Practice by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Angela de Rocha, Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services

April 6, 2015 at 9:30 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Letter: Mental health, jail

*Last April the State of Kansas collaborated with mental health providers to establish Rainbow Services Inc. (RSI) in the Kansas City metro area. This facility provides crisis stabilization and intermediate level care for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. This explains 24-hour facility offers assessment/triage; crisis observation; a sobering unit; and a short-term crisis stabilization unit. So far this facility has diverted 115 individuals from jail in the KC metro area, as well as diverted an estimated 571 individuals from local emergency rooms.
*In September, the State of Kansas awarded a $1 million grant to the South Central Mental Health Counseling Center/Regional Recovery Support Center, Region 2, to fund behavioral health crisis intervention services similar to those provided at RSI in Butler, Sedgwick and Sumner counties, with ComCare of Wichita serving as project director.
We regret that this information, and information on a number of other mental health initiatives, were not reported to readers of the Journal World. If the letter writer would like to contact me, I would be happy to provide her with more information and details of our mental health programs.
Angela de Rocha, Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services

February 14, 2015 at 9:24 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Letter: Mental health, jail

Over the past four years, the State of Kansas has taken a number of steps to bolster the availability of alternative, community-based care alternatives. Last May, the Governor announced plans for strengthening the delivery of behavioral health services in Kansas. Specific to this letter-writer's comments, one of the initiatives he announced was the creation of the Law Enforcement Behavioral Health Advisory Council, consisting of Attorney General Derek Schmidt, Secretary Ray Roberts, Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter, and Topeka Police Department Captain Bill Cochran. The council reviews future community grants aimed at helping to keep individuals in the community and out of jails, prisons, and state hospitals. Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) and Mental Health First Aid training is a part of this effort aimed at education for front-line responders.
The projects, which are under way, are:
Increasing the number of the state’s CIT training sessions. These training programs include instruction, classroom materials, and student room and board. Each officer trained earns continuing education hours through the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center (KLETC).
KDADS is developing an online mental health training curriculum in collaboration with the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center. KLETC is producing an online training video and testing instrument for use by law enforcement agencies that are unable to send staff to the training center. The anticipated audience for the video training could be as many as 1,500 to 2,000 officers, or approximately 25 percent of current Kansas law enforcement personnel.
*Providing a series of one-day mental health awareness training sessions that are being presented across the state to lay the ground work for more specialized behavioral health training in the future. Regional training events target smaller, rural law enforcement agencies that do not have the local mental health resources to provide such training. Those participating include law enforcement officers, county jail personnel, parole officers, juvenile justice staff and education personnel.
*We have increased the capacity of the Mental Health First Aid training program with “Train the Trainer” sessions. KDADS is paying for these individuals to receive additional training and certification to be able to teach this program to the public safety sector and veteran populations.

February 14, 2015 at 9:23 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Letter: Mental health, jail

The State of Kansas has not closed a mental hospital since 1997 and has no plans to do so. Medicaid law specifies that funds may not be used for private hospitals treating physical conditions but generally not for mental health. As a result, private hospitals have reduced the number of or eliminated entirely their psychiatric beds. This is very much the situation in Kansas.
Angela de Rocha, Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services

February 14, 2015 at 9:12 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Editorial: Crisis situation

There is a difference between disability and mental illness. Osawatomie does not have fewer beds, the number of beds was increased by 30 earlier this year. Osawatomie's mission is to focus on acute care for the seriously mentally ill. Its treatment programs focus on those patients. Many individuals can be and are being treated successfully in their communities.
Osawatomie has experienced spikes in its census many times before. The last time this occurred was in 2011. The hospital has also gone for long periods of time with normal census numbers. AdR

December 18, 2014 at 7:47 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Editorial: Crisis situation

Osawatomie State Hospital does not, and cannot by law, refuse to admit individuals ordered committed by the court. The agency is asking the community mental health centers to confer with the hospital's admissions officers before requesting a court-ordered committal. Angela de Rocha, Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services

December 18, 2014 at 7:38 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Editorial: Crisis situation

Osawatomie State Hospital has not turned away anyone who is a danger to themselves or others. The new admissions policy is specifically designed to ensure that such individuals can be accommodated and provided treatment and care at Osawatomie. The triage system is NOT turning away people facing "serious and potentially dangerous mental health challenges."
The community mental health centers have really stepped up and helped the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services deal with this situation. They have identified alternate treatment options for dozens of patients. The agency has set up a "bed board," which the centers can consult, that identifies available private psychiatric beds. This helps the centers in the Osawatomie catchment area locate alternate beds across the state so that individuals needing in-patient treatment can be cared for appropriately.
Spikes in patient census at Osawatomie are not unknown. Census spikes appear to be cyclical. The last time this occurred was 2011.
And the new admissions policy is functioning as planned. Yesterday the hospital census stood at 186 with three patients scheduled for discharge.
Angela de Rocha, Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services.

December 18, 2014 at 6:21 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Kansas governor faces new questions about Medicaid

Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Kansas chose not to participate in KanCare, citing its lack of experience with managed care (and your proposal to simply award the contract to BC/BS is illegal.) The state could hardly force BC/BS to contract with it. We are not a socialist paradise. Your comment does a great disservice to the 60 or so long-time, career, non-politically appointed state employees who spend thousands of hours assessing the KanCare bids and who have since spend countless hours fine-turning the program's performance. In fact, we are tracking better health outcomes for members; 99 percent of clean claims under KanCare are paid within 30 days, and the claim denial rate is 15 percent, compared to 30 percent under old Medicaid (according to a report prepared under the Parkinson administration.) All that is ever reported about KanCare is negative, it overwhelming effectiveness and success doesn't get reported because no one is beefing about it. Angela de Rocha

October 30, 2014 at 9:47 a.m. ( | suggest removal )