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Kansas Moving Mental Health Inmates Because of Staffing Issues

Governor Sam Brownback speaking last year. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s administration is moving mental health inmates between state facilities as a way to alleviate staffing shortages. The plan includes moving dozens of inmates with mental health issues from Larned State Hospital units to another facility run by the Kansas Department of Corrections.

Brownback says the inmates will still receive psychiatric services once they’re moved.


“You want to make sure you’ve got people in the right place so that you can maximize your space and your utilization of it. Those are management things,” says Brownback.
 
Democratic state Senator Laura Kelly says this plan won’t fix staffing and funding challenges at the state hospitals.

“I think it’s kind of shuffling things around. I think it might provide some very short-term relief. I think long-term it does nothing to deal with the underlying problems,” says Kelly.
 
Another Kansas facility, Osawatomie State Hospital, recently lost its federal certification because of staffing and safety concerns.

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(VERSION TWO)

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s administration is moving mental health inmates between state facilities to help reduce staffing shortages. The effort includes transferring dozens of inmates with mental health issues from Larned State Hospital units to other facility run by the Kansas Department of Corrections.

Governor Brownback says the inmates will continue to receive psychiatric services once they’re moved.


“You want to make sure you’ve got people in the right place so that you can maximize your space and your utilization of it. Those are management things,” says Brownback.
 
Rebecca Proctor, with the Kansas Organization of State Employees, says this doesn’t solve the underlying staffing shortage.
“Just transferring patients or inmates to another facility does not create a lasting solution. It is at best a temporary Band-Aid,” says Proctor.
 
Proctor is concerned some inmates who need psychiatric care will be moved to facilities where corrections staff don’t have mental health training.

 

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