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State May Not Seek Recertification Of Osawatomie State Hospital

Phil Cauthon
KHI News Service/File photo

Kansas officials aren’t sure how to address ongoing problems at the Osawatomie State Hospital for the mentally ill. Federal officials have decertified the hospital due to problems that they say compromise the safety of both patients and hospital staff. 

The hospital recently lost its Medicare certification due ongoing safety concerns connected to the reported rape of a hospital worker by a patient.

Rep. Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat, says there has been a total breakdown in the management of the hospital.

“That’s shameful and it should be fixed," he says.

Fixing the problems, Ward says, should include firing top state and hospital officials.

But Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services Secretary Kari Bruffett says that’s not the way to proceed.

“For us, it’s not ever been about let’s find the person we’re going to blame. It’s about how do you fix the problems," Bruffett says.

Decertification means the hospital will lose about $1 million a month in Medicare reimbursements and other federal payments.

But addressing the problems cited by federal inspectors would require the state to spend millions of additional dollars to hire separate staff for part of the hospital and to continue renovating the aging facility. It would also force the state to continue limiting patient admissions at a time when every bed is needed.

Bruffett says agency officials want to talk to lawmakers before making a decision on whether to seek federal recertification of the mental health hospital.

More from KHI News Service.