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Hospital Bed Shortage Causes Issues for the Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center

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IOLA, KANSAS -

In 2015, the Osawatomie State Hospital reduced it's bed count by by 60 beds, from 206 to 146. The Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center refers its patients in need of inpatient care to Osawatomie, but for the last 3 years the hospital has been able to say "no."

"We're determining outpatient services are insufficient to keep this person safe in the community. But then we're being tasked with doing just that: trying to keep them safe in the community. And unfortunately that often means law enforcement has to become involved," said SEKMHC Clinical Director Doug Wright.

Providing care to patients the SEKMHC believes should be receiving inpatient care at a hospital, has increased workloads and funding needs for the health center.

"The crisis therapists that we have on staff are having to invest a lot more time, 3 or 4 more times of time it would have previously taken them to assess and coordinate care," said SEKMHC Executive Director Nathan Fawson.

Fawson says back in 2015, Osawatomie State Hospital had to reduce its number of beds to save its credentials and conform to regulations. He says the situation has been slowly improving.

"I've been encouraged by Osawatomie's slow but increasing bed count. Although they reduced by 60 beds in 2015, they within this recent year or so, have incrementally increased some, which has lessened the wait list, but nonetheless, it remains a stressful factor," said Fawson.

Fawson also says, until the hospital's bed count is back to 2015 levels or higher, SEKMHC's costs will continue to be higher than they should be.

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