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Pawnee County officials plan a trip to Topeka

LARNED – Pawnee County officials discussed potential dates for a trip to Topeka during their regular meeting on Monday. As in the past, the delegation including Pawnee County Commissioners and Legislative Task Force members will discuss issues facing state legislators during the current session regarding Larned State Hospital. They will also meet with officials from the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services, which oversees mental health facilities in the state, including LSH.

The commissioners met with legislative liaison Steve Kearney via Zoom on Monday to review possible dates, noted Pawnee County Commissioner Bob Rein Jr.

Kearney, a Topeka attorney, served as the liaison between the county and state LSH enforcement agency for nearly a decade.

Rein said the trip is scheduled for two weeks starting Monday. “We try to come up once a year to meet with lawmakers and anyone else we think we need to meet with,” Rein said.

“We are looking at the week of February 13, in two weeks.

“We used to do it every year and then COVID took it astray,” Rein said. “We have to get back on track with that.”

In the months leading up to the current session, Kansas lawmakers reviewed several ongoing issues facing the state’s mental health system, from workforce shortages, wage inequalities, patient bed shortages, long time waiting times and pressure on law enforcement agencies to house and transport people in need or awaiting the screening process.

“We want to catch up on the things that have happened so far in the session, what has been talked about in relation to the county and the state hospital,” Rein noted.

Each year, the county also holds a leadership forum to discuss different county issues. Last March, LSH hosted the event which reviewed the current issues facing the State Hospital, KDADS and Larned Mental Health Correctional Facility on the LSH campus. County, state and area elected officials were invited to participate.

Occupying a 78-acre campus, LSH is the largest psychiatric facility in the state, serving 66 counties in western Kansas. The hospital campus has three separate and diverse patient programs: the Psychiatric Services Program (PSP); the State Security Program (SSP) and the Sexual Predator Treatment Program (SPTP).

The Adult Treatment Center (ATC) was opened in 1990 to provide specialized behavioral health services to individuals admitted to the LSH catchment area on a voluntary basis or civilly engaged through the justice system. The PSP is authorized to provide treatment services for up to 90 patients.

PSP capacity was reduced in May 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic to allow all patients private rooms in order to reduce or minimize the spread of disease and safely manage patients due to staff shortages .

SSP is planned for 140 patients. The SSP serves the adult male and female forensic populations with mental illnesses admitted through specific forensic statutes.

The SPTP was established with a 1994 statute that provides for the civil engagement of people identified as sexually violent predators. SPTP residents advance through three tiers toward placement in one of the reintegration facilities located at LSH, Osawatomie State Hospital, and Parsons State Hospital and Training Center.

The Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility (LCMHF) was originally built in response to a 1989 federal court order to serve the long-term needs of mentally ill inmates of the Kansas Department of Corrections.

Its status was changed in 2017 to house offenders aged 18 to 25 sentenced to Secretary of Corrections custody.

LCMHF consists of a medium security central unit with 310 beds and a minimum security west unit with 288 beds.

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