Gov. Kelly says changes are needed at mental hospital’s acute care unit

Osawatomie State Hospital grounds are shown in this file photo from April 8, 2016.

Wichita — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly says a troubled unit within a state hospital for the mentally ill is “not a therapeutic environment,” and she’s promising to change it.

Kelly discussed the latest problems at Osawatomie State Hospital on Thursday after federal inspectors again threatened to pull Medicare funding, The Wichita Eagle reports.

Kelly said the facility’s 60-bed Adair Acute Care unit is “way too small to have 60 people with some serious mental health issues in that one place.” She added that the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, which oversees state hospitals, is working on improvement plans to lower the number of patients in the unit and provide beds elsewhere.

Issues initially came to a head in January 2016 when the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services decertified the entire Osawatomie State Hospital in response to security and safety issues, which cost the state millions of dollars a year in federal funds. In December 2017, the agency re-certified the Adair portion of the facility, allowing Osawatomie to again receive Medicare funding for those 60 beds.

But federal officials who inspected the unit last year found that treatment for some patients needed to be more frequent and intense. Inspectors also found missing treatment notes and plans that lacked specific goals. The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services has filed a plan to correct the problems, promising to provide more individualized treatment for patients.

Kelly singled out crisis centers as one way to improve the state’s mental health care system. A 2017 law signed by Gov. Sam Brownback allowed the facilities to involuntarily admit individuals for up to 72 hours.

Last year, lawmakers approved $2.6 million for mental health care improvements that included funding for the centers. Kelly said Thursday that the investment makes more sense than adding capacity to the state mental health hospitals.

KDADS spokeswoman Cara Sloan-Ramos said more detailed information will be released when Kelly presents her proposed budget later this month. But she said the agency will put forward a plan to lift a moratorium on new admissions to Osawatomie that has been in place for years. She also said it will include a continued focus on providing care near patients’ homes and communities.


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