County officials express frustration with mental hospital

PAOLA, Kan. (AP) — Officials in an eastern Kansas county say they’re frustrated by safety problems at a state mental hospital that recently lost Medicare funding.

Federal officials said last month that the Medicare program would stop paying for patient care at Osawatomie State Hospital because the hospital falls short of meeting federal regulations. Among numerous issues cited by federal inspectors was a report that an employee was raped by a patient in October.

Commissioners for Miami County, where the hospital is located, shared their frustrations with state lawmakers at a commission meeting Wednesday, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported. Miami County Commissioner Rob Roberts said the hospital got good marks just a few years ago.

“The stories that are being told about the Osawatomie State Hospital are not ones that anyone in our county should be proud of,” Roberts said.

Rep. Kevin Jones, R-Wellsville, told the commission the hospital lacks vision and has gotten a reputation lately as a place where no one wants to go. Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, said a plan is needed to get the hospital back on track.

The Medicare decertification came as a surprise to the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, agency assistant secretary Kelli Ludlum told the commission.

The hospital took steps to boost security, but a follow-up inspection found additional problems, including that a male sex offender wasn’t supervised properly and engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior.

Ludlum rejected findings that there was “systemic failure” at the hospital, saying the reported rape “was a very unfortunate situation that took place in a very short period of time.”

The department has not yet appealed the findings made by federal inspectors, though Ludlum said that’s a likely step. She also said there were issues in the federal findings that “we probably should have known about and didn’t know about.”

“We want to make sure we have all of our facts straight before we file the appeal,” she said.

Miami County Attorney Elizabeth Sweeney-Reeder said crime has been increasing at the hospital.

“Whether or not the problems the state hospital is having now are causing the increase in crime, I don’t know,” Sweeney-Reeder said. “But it’s awfully coincidental we have an upswing in cases that are criminal, they’re all serious, they’re all felonies, having bad injuries to people.”

 

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

 

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