APNewsBreak: Kansas mental hospital regains certification

AP News
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Posted: Dec 19, 2017 12:30 PM

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state mental hospital in eastern Kansas has regained federal certification for one of its housing units after working for two years to address safety issues and making extensive renovations to lessen the risk of patient suicides.

Officials at the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services confirmed Tuesday that Osawatomie State Hospital, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Kansas City, had passed its second federal inspection within four months. Secretary Tim Keck granted an exclusive interview to The Associated Press before the agency's official announcement.

"It's been a heavy lift," Keck said. "I'm over the moon with excitement."

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' decision in December 2015 to revoke the hospital's certification was costing Kansas up to $1 million a month in federal funds. Keck said it's not clear exactly how much of that funding will come back, though it's likely to be between 40 percent and 50 percent.

The decertification came after federal surveyors described a "systemic failure" to protect suicidal patients, adequately supervise care and perform required safety checks. The decision also came after a staff member reported being raped by a patient.

The hospital passed surveys conducted in August and after Thanksgiving. The state received notice of the recertification late Monday.

The recertification applies to a 60-bed unit at the hospital, which has been housing 150 patients and now has a capacity for 158. The unit is being managed separately from the rest of the hospital, with its own CEO, and it underwent $1.3 million in renovations to replace furniture and fixtures that would allow patients to hang or strangle themselves.

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The state also boosted wages for workers to lessen staff vacancies. The state also revised treatment for patients to focus more on each person individually, which hospital officials said was possible with staffing improvements.

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Follow John Hanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjdhanna .