Monday, June 29, 2015

Former Osawatomie State Hospital patient facing murder charge

Murder charges against a former patient at Osawatomie State
Hospital is prompting questions about mental health system.
The recent filing of murder charges against a former patient at the Osawatomie State Hospital is prompting questions about the state’s mental health system.

On May 14, Brandon Brown, 30, was released from a five-day stay at Osawatomie. He was sent to the state hospital after threatening other patients at the Haviland Care Center, a nursing facility in Kiowa County that specializes in treating adults with serious and persistent mental illness.

Brown, who has long struggled with schizophrenia, was returned to Haviland and on May 17 allegedly assaulted Jerry Martinez, 61, another patient there. Martinez was flown by air ambulance to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, where he died 18 days later.

Brown, who now is being held in a locked security unit at Larned State Hospital, has been charged with second-degree murder.

“The allegations are that he pulled the victim out of bed and slammed his head to the floor several times,” said Kiowa County Attorney Scott James.

The Haviland incident and a recent report in the Topeka Capital-Journal about staffing shortages are intensifying concerns about operations at the state’s two hospitals for people with mental illness. The newspaper report said that nearly 40 percent of the full-time staff positions at Osawatomie State Hospital and 35 percent of those at Larned State Hospital recently were vacant.

“I’ve had a few incidents like this now,” James said. “I have to say they do lead me to wonder if the pressures — whether they be staffing pressures or budget pressures — are really starting to tax these mental health entities to a degree that’s not healthy for the state. I mean, if the state hospital isn’t there to house Mr. Brown, who is it there to house?”

James’ question is at the center of a long-simmering debate over the role of the state’s mental health hospitals in Osawatomie and Larned since lawmakers in the mid-1990s decided to close Topeka State Hospital and expand the state’s network of community-based programs.

This shift from institutional care to in-community care was driven by a desire to provide treatment that is less expensive, more effective and more humane.

But there are growing concerns about the adequacy of the safety net for those who continue to need intensive, inpatient care.

“This is all about having enough ‘ports in the storm’ for when people are in crisis,” said Frank Denning, sheriff of Johnson County. “When 17 percent of the people in (Johnson County) jail have been diagnosed as having a serious and persistent mental illness, it means we don’t have enough ‘ports.’ And when Osawatomie stopped taking voluntary admissions, it leaves us with fewer ‘ports.’”

KDADS officials limited voluntary admissions at the Osawatomie hospital late last year after federal inspectors cited the facility for having too many patients and inadequate staffing levels, and for not doing enough to protect potentially suicidal patients.

Patients admitted voluntarily are those who have been deemed to be potentially dangerous to themselves or others but have not committed a crime and haven’t been sent for treatment under a court order. The limit on voluntary admissions was intended to reduce the patient census at the 206-bed hospital, which had a record 260 patients in October 2014.

Read Entire KHI News Article

InterHab Update - June 29, 2015

Do you know of someone worth celebrating? Nominate someone you know who goes above and beyond for your organization and the people you support! Submit your nominations no later than July 1st!

Click here to watch last year's awards video.
Click here to download the Call for Awards nomination form.

Watch this week's InterHab Update and learn the latest on what's going on in the legislature. Find out why it is up to us to speak up against any solution to the State budget mess that could throw a greater burden of inequity onto the backs of Kansans in need. Write to your Governor today and talk to your legislators and urge them to find realistic answers to the budget woes facing our state.

Oral Health Kansas announces free toothbrush kit program

Oral Health Kansas announced that Kansas organizations are eligible to apply for free toothbrush kits for the people they support.

The Delta Dental of Kansas Toothbrush Kits Grant Program is a great way to have toothbrush kits for individuals being served who don’t have resources on their own.

You can learn more about the toothbrush kit materials, guidelines for submitting the grant and the grant application by clicking here. The grant proposal is due July 31, 2015.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Admissions suspended at state hospital

A state official announced on Wednesday that Osawatomie State Hospital has stopped admitting patients.

Addressing a meeting in Topeka of the Kansas Mental Health Coalition, Ted Jester, assistant director of mental health services at the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, said admissions were suspended Saturday evening when the hospital’s census reached 146 patients.

“This is an unprecedented time in the state of Kansas,” Jester said, noting that the law allowing the hospital to turn away involuntary-admission patients, all of whom have been found to pose a danger to themselves or others, passed in 1986. “That law has never been used until last week,” he said.

Earlier this year, KDADS officials limited the Osawatomie hospital’s daily census to 146 patients after federal surveyors cited the facility for having too many patients, not having enough staff and not doing enough to protect suicidal patients.

Read full KHI News article. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

InterHab Update

InterHab urges you to contact Gov. Brownback and your local Legislators to protect the I/DD network from any budget cuts. Watch the video below for specific instructions.

Download Gov. Sample Letter
Download Legislator Sample Letter

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

No criminal charges for Kansas Governor

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, left, and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer
 at a Capitol press conference last year. | John Hanna AP
Federal prosecutors will bring no criminal charges after an investigation into loans made to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s re-election campaign by his lieutenant governor, the U.S. Attorney’s office said Wednesday.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Kansas has completed an investigation involving loans made by Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer to the Brownback re-election campaign,” said Jim Cross, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Wichita. “No federal charges are expected to be filed.”

That statement came after Colyer and Brownback, on the governor’s officials website, said in a joint statement the U.S. attorney’s office was bringing no charges after completing its investigation “regarding campaign finance matters.”

Colyer and his attorney did not respond to phone and email messages Wednesday.

He made three loans totaling $1.5 million to the campaign. That raised eyebrows not only because their size was unusual in Kansas politics, but because the first two were repaid within days. Democrats speculated they might have been timed to inflate campaign finance reports. They came as the Republican governor in a deeply conservative state faced the real prospect of losing to the well-financed Democratic challenger, Paul Davis.

Read entire article

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Brownback defends budget, claims tax package is not a tax increase

Gov. Sam Brownback talks about the
record-long legislative session & taxes
during a news conference today.
Photo courtesy of the Wichita Eagle. 
In comments given at the Statehouse today, Kansas Gov. Brownback discussed the two bills legislators passed on Friday to raise $384 million during the fiscal year that begins July 1. One measure raises the sales tax to 6.5 percent, and the other increase the cigarette tax to $1.29. In passing these measures, the legislature averted a deficit that is prohibited by the Kansas constitution.

Gov. Brownback denied that an increase in sales and other taxes counts as a tax increase, because it comes on the heels of massive income tax cuts passed three years earlier.  The Kansas Governor stood behind his aggressive tax cuts of 2012, and maintained that economic growth would fuel the state’s needs.

Gov. Brownback described taxes on income as ‘productivity’ taxes, as opposed to ‘consumption’ taxes, which he said was a sales tax.

Republican Senator Jeff Longbine had asserted late last week that Gov. Brownback "blackmailed the legislature" into getting what he wanted in the budget and tax plans. Gov. Brownback denied this claim and also denied that business are the ones benefiting from the tax structure and budget plan (the cuts of 2012, included a policy that freed Kansas business-owners and farmers from paying income taxes on their profits).

Even with the new revenues from sales tax increases, Gov. Brownback might have to cut up to $50 million in spending.

Discussing the forthcoming cuts, Brownback said his administration "haven't started much of a serious look." Brownback said he hopes to make that $50 million cost-cutting goal by “looking at efficiencies and privatization” of state government operations where possible.

The governor said he had not decided on what cuts to enact with one exception. When he signed the budget he made a line item veto based on a recommendation from the Kansas Board of Regents, cutting $1.9 million both this coming year and next for a program that grants funds to post-secondary institutions that provide GED accelerators for students.