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State signs contract to deliver youth psychiatric hospital services in Hays

By: - December 13, 2021 4:07 pm
The administration of Gov. Laura Kelly signed a contract to create a 14-bed acute psychiatric hospital for youth in Hays to fill a service void in western Kansas. Admissions are to begin in 2023. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

The administration of Gov. Laura Kelly signed a contract to create a 14-bed acute psychiatric hospital for youth in Hays to fill a service void in western Kansas. Admissions are to begin in 2023. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — The state of Kansas signed a contract to open in 2023 a licensed 14-bed acute psychiatric hospital in Hays for youth up to 18 years of age, officials said Monday.

The facility to be operated by KVC Hospitals, a network of nonprofit children’s psychiatric hospitals and residential treatment centers, would help fill a void in western Kansas for services sought by children in crisis. After closure of a hospital for children at Larned State Hospital, KVC provided in-patient youth psychiatric hospital serves from 2010 to 2019.

The contract with the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services running through 2027 would include 10 “no-eject, no-reject” beds for patients from the Larned State Hospital area struggling with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and trauma.

“This facility will provide critical mental health services in an underserved region of our state,” said Gov. Laura Kelly, who is seeking re-election in 2022. “My administration is committed to making continued improvements like these for all Kansans kids.”

KVC Hospitals agreed to provide full medical, clinical and nursing assessment within 24 hours of admission, around-the-clock supervision by skilled nurses, intensive psychiatric care and medication management, case coordination and innovative treatment to help youth regulate emotions.

“As we continue to see increasing numbers of youth in crisis with more severe symptoms, these services are needed in Hays now more than ever before,” said Bobby Eklofe, president of KVC Hospitals.

Laura Howard, secretary of KDADS, said the facility would reduce waiting times for children needing intervention. The contract comes at a time of “critical consequence” surrounding child psychiatric services in Kansas, she said.

KDADS worked with United Methodist Health Ministry Fund and the Wichita State University Community Engagement Institute to develop strategies for sustaining adequate staff necessary to delivery of acute psychiatric hospitalization services to children. The conversation led to selection of Hays for a hospital capable of stabilizing youth and equipping them with skills and resources to continue treatment in home communities.

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.

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