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UPDATE: State responds to letter calling for Larned hospital changes

(WIBW)
Published: Nov. 4, 2021 at 5:16 AM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Update: In a response to the letter signed by 59 Kansas sheriffs, secretary for the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services Laura Howard wrote that “a number of initiatives are underway to address the Larned State Hospital’s systemic challenges.

Howard said that KDADS is working with community hospitals to provide psychiatric services closer to the patient’s home, a response to the sheriffs’ complaint that some patients are transported to a facility in Osowatomie even when they live closer to Larned.

Howard also mentions staff shortages as a critical factor in whether patients are accepted. She wrote that the sheriffs have “my commitment that my team and I will continue to do all we can to expeditiously serve individuals who need the services of Larned State Hospital.”

Nearly 60 Kansas sheriffs signed a letter to Governor Laura Kelly demanding change to conditions at Larned State Hospital.

The letter was written by Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir and signed by 58 other sheriffs. In the letter, Bellendir calls for change in multiple practices at the mental health hospital in Larned, saying “operations and management ... have reached a crisis level.”

The letter expresses concern at the recent escape of convicted sex offender John Colt, who was aided by multiple staff members at the hospital. Bellendir and company are also dismayed by the hospital’s refusal of patients whom the sheriffs deem in need of immediate care, and over the “red tape and bureaucracy” they believe influences many of the decisions and practices of hospital personnel.

“(I)t is our opinion that the public is in danger and there is a continued disservice to those who are mentally ill,” the letter states. “Therefore, we must firmly insist on a change of leadership at the administrative level at Larned State Hospital.”

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