Hospital ERs Seeing Influx Of People Needing Mental Health Services

Jan 12, 2016

Credit Phil Cauthon for KHI News Service

Problems at the Osawatomie State Hospital for Kansans with mental illness are creating challenges for some hospital emergency rooms across the state.

A cap on admissions at Osawatomie is leaving some people with severe and persistent mental illness with nowhere to go when they’re in crisis. So, more are showing up in the emergency rooms of community hospitals that aren’t equipped to treat them.

A spokesperson for Lawrence Memorial Hospital says it has been forced to add staff and security to deal with the influx.

She says the one of the biggest challenges has been finding a place for patients to stay while they wait for a bed at Osawatomie or one of the few other facilities licensed to care for them.

Renovations being made at the state hospital to address problems cited by federal inspectors have significantly reduced its capacity. Additional problems identified only recently may require more construction and force state officials to continue to limit admissions indefinitely.

A spokesperson for Wichita’s Wesley Medical Center says it also is seeing an influx in ER patients needing mental health care.