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Staff Describe Difficult Working Conditions At Kansas State Mental Hospital


Workers from the Larned State Hospital say staffing shortages have created difficult and unsafe working conditions at the mental facility. Two employees told a legislative committee yesterday about the challenges they face.

Kyle Nuckolls says staff often work 12- to 16-hour shifts multiple days in a row at the western Kansas facility and they can’t take time off for family emergencies or illness. He says the long shifts lead to worker mistakes and other challenges.

“I cannot count the number of times I’ve fallen asleep at the wheel driving home or the number of employees who have told me they’ve done the same,” Nuckolls says.

Tim Keck, secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, says they’re taking steps to improve working conditions and leadership at Larned.

“It’s got to change. It’s got to be more respectful, better employee relations and I think it’s better over the last few months. I hope it stays that way," Keck says. "It’s a stressful place to be. It’s hard to work those hours."

Keck says around one in three jobs at Larned are currently unfilled.

Stephen Koranda is the managing editor of the Kansas News Service, based at KCUR. He has nearly 20 years of experience in public media as a reporter and editor.