Brownback Wants State Mental Hospital Re-Opened, but There May Be Bigger Problems Afoot

Apr 22, 2016

An older building stands near the entrance of Osawatomie State Hospital, Friday, April 8, 2016 in Osawatomie, Kan. Reminders of the past mark the campus in older buildings, some largely abandoned as states moved in past decades away from using large hospitals to treat the mentally ill. Fifty years ago, Osawatomie had more than 750 patients.
Credit Orlin Wagner / AP photo

Last December the federal government decertified Osawatomie State Hospital in Eastern Kansas. In their decision, the feds cited “systemic failure” to protect suicidal patients, adequately supervise care and perform required safety checks, reports The Topeka Capital-Journal.

With the hospital’s closure, the state is losing a million dollars a month in federal funds. Now Governor Sam Brownback wants the facility re-opened. For that to happen, Osawatomie will have to be recertified. But some state legislators are concerned that Brownback’s administration is putting the cart before the horse, by attempting recertification before dealing with larger and more long-term problems.

One of those problems: The hospital may not have enough hospital beds to accommodate the mentally ill. Last June the hospital capped its population at 146 patients, cutting the number of  beds by 60—in order to address a rising threat of patient suicide.