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Kansas Agency Working To Speed Federal Inspections Of Osawatomie State Hospital

Phil Cauthon for KHI News Service

The head of the Kansas agency that oversees the state’s hospital system is working to jump-start the process of recertifying Osawatomie State Hospital.

Federal officials decertified the state’s largest psychiatric hospital in December 2015 due to concerns about patient safety and staffing.

The decertification order is costing the hospital approximately $1 million a month in federal funding. Staffing adjustments and renovations completed in August 2016 to a unit housing 60 of the hospital’s 206 patient beds have corrected the problems, said Tim Keck, secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services.

But federal surveyors have yet to conduct the first of two required inspections for recertification. So, in an attempt to jump-start the process, Keck recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“I have had a couple of meetings with CMS over the last few weeks, and we believe they’ll be out sooner rather than later,” Keck said Wednesday after updating members of a legislative committee charged with overseeing KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

Based on his discussions with CMS officials, Keck said he believes federal surveyors will conduct the first inspection sometime in the next month to determine whether the state has adequately addressed the deficiencies that led to the decertification. Several weeks later, he said, the hospital must also score well on a “full survey” to be eligible for recertification.

To keep the process moving, Keck said he hopes CMS will allow the second survey to be done by The Joint Commission, an independent hospital accrediting organization.

“We’ll have to make an application for that, but we’re working with our consultant to get all that worked out,” he said.

The budget proposed by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback included an $11.6 million cut in Osawatomie’s funding for the fiscal year that starts July 1. Many lawmakers are opposed to the proposed cut but are not sure they can prevent it given projected revenue shortfalls approaching $1 billion in the next two budget years.

Jim McLean is managing director of KMUW's Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and KCUR covering health, education and politics in Kansas. Follow him on Twitter @jmcleanks.