mental health

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Years of problems at Osawatomie State Hospital reached a crisis point in the fall of 2015, when the sexual assault of a hospital employee by a patient triggered two failed inspections and the loss of federal funding.

Megan Hart / Heartland Health Monitor/File Photo

In the years between World War II and John F. Kennedy’s presidency, Kansas transformed its mental health system. Building what had been among the nation’s worst into one of the best. A new round of reforms rejuvenated the system in the early 1990s. But as Heartland Health Monitor’s Jim McLean reports, the failure of successive governors and legislatures to fund those reforms is now threatening to reverse years of progress and the future of the state’s largest mental health hospital.

Heartland Health Monitor

A contract dispute has ended a University of Kansas research center’s more than 30-year collaboration with the state’s community mental health centers--and that has several mental health providers lashing out at officials in the administration of Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. Heartland Health Monitor’s Jim McLean explains the history behind the growing controversy.


A contract dispute between a state agency and a research center at KU could affect the quality of care at community mental health centers across Kansas.

What appears at first blush to be little more than a contract dispute between a state agency and a University of Kansas research center is actually much more than that.

The state’s failure to renew a contract with the KU Center for Mental Health Research and Innovation is another assault on the state’s mental health system, according to the directors of several community mental health centers.

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Recent cuts in Medicaid reimbursement rates ordered by Gov. Sam Brownback and other reductions in state funding are “devastating” the Kansas mental health system. That’s according to the association that represents 26 community mental health centers across the state.

Megan Hart / Heartland Health Monitor/File Photo

Limited capacity at the state’s largest psychiatric hospital and other factors are forcing some Kansans who need mental health treatment to wait in hospital emergency rooms. Sometimes for days.

One year after Osawatomie State Hospital temporarily stopped admitting patients for the first time in its history, the number of people waiting for mental health treatment is up.

And an increasing number of them are waiting in hospital emergency rooms.

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

A Wichita health center that provides medical services in a predominantly underserved part of the city has been awarded funds to complete a $10.7 million expansion and renovation of its existing facility.

HealthCore Clinic was founded with a goal to eliminate disparities in health care. With funds from the Primary Care Development Corporation and Capital One Bank, officials estimate the clinic will be able to accommodate more than 30,000 additional patient visits over the next 7 years, effectively tripling the health center’s capacity.


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.

Sean Sandefur / KMUW

Each winter, dozens of homeless men are able to find a warm place to sleep at a shelter near downtown Wichita. It's run by Inter-Faith Ministries, a nonprofit that provides mats, blankets, and also dinner. But once spring sets in, the shelter is closed, and it’s often back to the streets for those who sleep there. KMUW’s Sean Sandefur reports on the difficult process of getting these men into a permanent home.

Mike Sherry / KHI News

Wyandot Inc., an umbrella organization for four nonprofit agencies in Kansas City, Kansas, that serve the mentally ill and the homeless, has eliminated 26 positions. 

The agency, which has been around since 1953, has been hit hard by Kansas’ decision to get rid of two programs that accounted for more than $1 million of its revenues.