Larned State Hospital

Courtesy KDADS

Attorney Bill Rein has been named to head the troubled state mental hospital at Larned, in central Kansas. As Heartland Health Monitor’s Bryan Thompson explains, the facility has long-standing problems hiring and keeping an adequate workforce.

Interim Secretary Tim Keck, of the Kansas Department on Aging and Disability Services, calls Rein the right person at the right time for the challenges facing Larned State Hospital.


Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback this week signed bills that prevent privatizing troubled state mental hospitals unless lawmakers approve. There have been staff shortages and other issues at the Larned and Osawatomie state hospitals.

Tim Keck, interim secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, has said in the past he wants to at least consider the option of privatizing state hospitals. This week, Brownback was asked by a reporter if privatizing the facilities is a long-term solution for the problems.

Phil Cauthon for the KHI News Service

Two separate Kansas legislative committees have approved proposals from Republican Gov. Sam Brownback to provide an additional $17 million to the state's two mental hospitals.

The decisions Thursday by the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Ways and Means Committee mean both chambers will consider the spending as part of broader budget legislation next week.

The extra funds will provide pay raises and offset lost federal funds over the next 15 months.

Workers from the Larned State Hospital say staffing shortages have created difficult and unsafe working conditions at the mental facility. Two employees told a legislative committee yesterday about the challenges they face.

Kyle Nuckolls says staff often work 12- to 16-hour shifts multiple days in a row at the western Kansas facility and they can’t take time off for family emergencies or illness. He says the long shifts lead to worker mistakes and other challenges.

A health care consultant with experience in hospital turnarounds will take over the top job at Larned State Hospital for the next six months. The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services announced Wednesday that Chris Mattingly will serve as interim superintendent of the facility.

The announcement comes on the heels of the resignation of former superintendent for the hospital Tom Kinlen. Larned faces ongoing challenges in hiring and retaining staff; earlier this year, internal reports found that employees racked up significant overtime hours.

Kansas Gov. 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 that you’ve got people in the right place so you can maximize your space and your utilization of it. Those are management things,” Brownback says.

Internal reports show that employees at one of Kansas' state mental hospitals have racked up significant overtime hours.

The Topeka Capital-Journal obtained four weeks of overtime data for the hospital's nursing department covering much of December. The paper says its analysis shows that in recent weeks more than half of all employees in Larned State Hospital's nursing department have worked overtime.

Kinlen Named To Head Larned State Hospital

Nov 20, 2012

The interim superintendent of Larned State Hospital has been given the position on a permanent basis. 

Group to protest Kobach policies in support of DREAM Act; Larned State Hospital names new director; Kansas Wheat crop suffers from another dry week.

National Group To Protest Kobach Policies

Opponents of immigration policies favored by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach are calling for his resignation.

A group called the DREAM Act Coalition expects up to 75 people from around the country to join with others at an anti-Kobach rally Tuesday at a Topeka state office building.