Sunday, April 18

State Mental Hospital May Turn Patients Away During Renovations

Kansas’ Osawatomie State Hospital may be freezing admissions in the near future as they attempt to finish mandatory updates and renovations. Medicaid and Medicare funding are in jeopardy, as Federal regulators threaten to cut the hospital off if conditions do not improve. An inspection in October found the facility to be in unsafe condition and operating 25% over capacity.

The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services will be spending $3 million to make the required renovations. The jeopardized funding makes up approximately 25% of the hospital budget, so it is crucial that the obligatory remodeling is completed.

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Specifically, the hospital will be updating the ceiling, beds, and bathrooms to prevent patient injuries and suicide. Replacing the ceiling alone will cause as many as 60 beds to become unavailable at a time, moving empty beds as the 50,400 square feet of ceiling renovations are completed.

“Normally it would be wise to block off the space that is to be renovated with either a tarp or a false wall, especially if there is a significant amount of dust created from the renovation work,” said Tom Pelusio, general manager at Rochester Linoleum & Carpet One. “The space should still be livable and safe for residents if trained professionals take the time to set up the renovation space properly.”

The hospital’s normal capacity is 206 patients, which is usually kept at a limit of 167. Due to the invasive nature of the renovations planned, the hospital will need to lower operational capacity to 146 until the remodel is completed this coming October. Hospital staff are currently trying to determine which patients are well enough to release or transfer to other facilities. Opponents of the hospital state that other facilities are not well-equipped enough to properly treat the patients, or that they are already at capacity and cannot take in the hospital’s patients.

Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services representatives have stated that the hospital is working tirelessly to find facilities for everyone who needs to be hospitalized.

“Everyone who needs to be cared for will be cared for,” representative Angela de Rocha told the Kansas City Star. “We’re not going to put anyone on the street or leave anyone on the street.”

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