- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Treatment options for the mentally ill in Kansas are lacking because the two acute care psychiatric hospitals in the state lack space and smaller mental health facilities are underfunded, according to a special state task force.

The Adult Continuum of Care Committee said in a report finalized last week that the state’s psychiatric hospitals in Larned and Osawatomie don’t have enough bed space to treat people who need their services and smaller mental health facilities are underfunded and overburdened, The Kansas City Star reported (https://bit.ly/1HYszU2 ).

“Due to the limited capacity at the state hospitals and lack of resources in the communities, there has been increasing pressure to discharge patients quickly to make room for more,” the committee said. “Compounding this issue is a continuing challenge with staffing levels due to staff turnover, staff burnout and fatigue.”

The committee’s report said the result is an “inadequate safety net” that jeopardizes the well-being of the mentally ill and “puts communities at risk, and places an undue burden on local resources, including law enforcement.”

The committee, composed largely of mental health professionals, law enforcement and the judiciary, was commissioned by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. Its recommendations have been sent to KDADS secretary Kari Bruffett.

Kansas spends about $100 million to operate the acute care hospitals. The state stopped voluntary admissions to the Osawatomie hospital earlier this year when the facility exceeded its 206-bed capacity by 25 percent. Osawatomie has since been limited to 146 beds while it undergoes a construction project.

The report says “any reduction of beds, of any number, is not recommended,” and that Osawatomie should be returned to full capacity as quickly as possible.

“The determining factors cannot solely be financial,” the report says. “The risk is too great.”


Information from: The Kansas City Star, https://www.kcstar.com

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