mental illness

Megan Wingerter / Heartland Health Monitor

This story was updated at 6:04 p.m. 

Kansas is seeking a private partner to operate Osawatomie State Hospital under a proposal that would allow the contractor to shift more than half the hospital’s beds to other parts of eastern Kansas.

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

University of Kansas researchers plan to use a $1.5 million federal grant to help Kansans with disabilities catch up to their non-disabled peers in several health categories.

Jean Hall, director of KU’s Institute for Health and Disability Policy Studies, will lead a team of partners from nonprofit organizations and government agencies to improve physical activity, nutrition and oral health for Kansans with disabilities.

Kansas is one of 19 states to get the grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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The troubled Larned State Hospital has a new superintendent.

Veteran state attorney Bill Rein has been named to head the facility, which provides inpatient treatment for people from the western two-thirds of Kansas suffering from severe or persistent mental illness.

In the wake of a mass shooting, politicians, the media, witnesses, and victims alike all struggle to make sense of the events. It's easy to characterize a shooter as being mentally ill, but is it accurate? One University of Missouri researcher thinks that assessment is often wrong.

Guests:

  • Tahir Rahman studies severe mental illness and is associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Missouri School of Medicine.

Claiming patients who experience psychosis have a chemical imbalance is an easy and incomplete explanation to a complicated problem. Treating patients with medication doesn't work for everyone, but other options do exist. Some are finding hope and better quality of life with a more holistic approach.

Guests:

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The head of the legal department at Larned State Hospital will be transferred to Topeka later this month, a move that has some western Kansas attorneys concerned the distance could throw a wrench in the process of committing people who need mental health treatment.

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The Kansas Legislature added several patient protection measures to a bill allowing “step therapy” for Medicaid drugs before passing the legislation early Monday morning.

Advocates for Kansans with mental illness and other conditions were pleased with the changes but remain concerned about the possible effects of the underlying bill on vulnerable patients.

Step therapy requires Medicaid patients to try the least expensive medications for treating their ailments first. If those fail, they can then “step up” to a more expensive alternative.

Tammy Worth / Heartland Health Monitor

The first time Rebecca Schunck tried to commit suicide she was 25. She called the police following a fight with her father, threatening to kill him and then herself.

Over the next decade, she says she tried to end her life more times than she can count – possibly 75 to 100 attempts. Her preferred modus operandi was medication overdose, but she also tried drowning, hanging herself and injecting air into her veins. During her final attempt in 2011, she got into her car with the windows up and turned the engine on. A concerned friend called the police, and officers arrived at Schunck’s house just a couple of minutes before she would have likely died.

Dan Margolies / Heartland Health Monitor

Steve Feinstein was superintendent of Osawatomie State Hospital from 1994 to 1998. He has a Ph.D. in psychology and got involved in mental health issues when he was hired to run a state mental hospital in eastern Oregon. Although he’s retired now, the Louisburg, Kansas, resident continues to pay close attention to what’s going on at Osawatomie, one of two state-run hospitals for the severely mentally ill. In a recent interview, he spoke to us about the Kansas hospital’s slew of recent troubles.

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Some mental health advocates in Kansas see a silver lining in Osawatomie State Hospital losing its Medicare payments: a chance to redesign a system they say was already strained and underfunded.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced in December it would decertify Osawatomie, meaning the hospital no longer will receive about $1 million in monthly payments from Medicare to care for patients with severe mental illnesses. Federal surveyors pointed to what they called widespread security problems.

Jim McLean / Heartland Health Monitor

State officials have not decided whether to seek federal recertification of the Osawatomie State Hospital for Kansans with mental illness.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services decertified the hospital earlier this month because of the state’s failure to address security and safety issues cited by federal inspectors, who concluded the sexual assault of a hospital worker by a patient in October was due in part to lax security.

Decertification is expected to cost the hospital approximately $1 million a month in Medicare reimbursements and other federal payments.

Dave Ranney / Heartland Health Monitor

Studies have shown that nearly half of the cigarettes consumed in the United States are smoked by people thought to have a mental illness.

At the same time, people who have a mental illness die an average of 25 years earlier than those who don’t have a mental illness.

“There’s a really big disparity in who’s smoking and in who’s dying,” said Kim Richter, who runs the tobacco cessation program at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.

“And we as a society haven’t really done anything about this,” she said. “We really need to turn this around.”

Dave Ranney / Heartland Health Monitor

An informal coalition of Kansas mental health advocates is close to proposing legislation that could prevent hundreds of people with serious mental illnesses from ending up in jails, emergency rooms or a state-run hospital.

“This has the potential to be one of those win-win-win situations that, frankly, in my 38-year career I can honestly say doesn’t come along very often,” said Bill Rein, commissioner of behavioral health services at the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services.

Esther Honig

This summer, more than 200 teams from around the world competed in KCRW's third International Radio Race. Participants were given the theme "Time Change" and 24 hours to produce a short radio story.

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

Kansas City-area business leaders and health executives are kicking off an effort to make mental health a priority in the workplace.

On Friday, the Mid-America Coalition on Health Care (MACHC) introduced the Right Direction Initiative, a free, ready-to-use communication campaign for businesses that want to improve the mental health of their employees.

Johnson County

Johnson County was one of four communities nationwide introduced Tuesday as initial participants in a broad effort aimed at reducing the number of mentally ill individuals in local jails.

Dubbed “Stepping Up,” the initiative is a combined effort of the National Association of Counties, the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the American Psychiatric Foundation.

The other participants are Washington D.C., Miami-Dade County, Florida, and Sacramento, California.

Indiana and Arkansas are in the news for controversial legislature aimed at protecting religious freedom. On this edition of Up To Date, the Ethics professors discuss when religious freedom infringes on other freedoms. Plus, what  responsibilities do employers and employees have when it comes to illness, mental or otherwise, in the workplace?

Guests:

For clergy, providing spiritual support in mental institutions can be difficult especially when some members of your congregation may not even be aware of who you are. On this edition of Up To Date, we talk to the chaplain at Osawatomie State Hospital on the challenges of ministering to the mentally ill. 

Guest:

  • Rev. Jeffrey Yelton is the psychiatric chaplain at Osawatomie State Hospital in Kansas.

KDHE Surveyors Sent To Osawatomie State Hospital

Oct 30, 2014

State officials on Wednesday confirmed reports that surveyors with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment were dispatched last week to Osawatomie State Hospital, and that the surveyors in turn summoned the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

Sara Belfry, a KDHE spokesperson, said the nature of the surveyors’ concerns will not be made public until after survey findings are reviewed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a process that’s likely to take several days.

Kansas Mental Health System Under Increasing Stress

Aug 18, 2014
www.kansasmemory.org / Kansas State Historical Society

 

One day last month, Osawatomie State Hospital had 254 patients in its care — almost 50 more than its optimal capacity.

The overcrowded conditions forced a few dozen patients, all of them coping with a serious mental illness and likely a danger to themselves or others, to be triple-bunked in rooms meant for two.

Gina Kaufmann, KCUR

On Thursday's Central Standard, we looked back at the history of intervention in mental health crises, going all the way back to the 19th century. 

The Glore Psychiatric Museum (formerly known as State Lunatic Asylum #2) captures both the treatments of the past and the controversies they sparked. Treatments in mental health hospitals once ranged from a "bath of surprise," which disrupted thought-patterns by dropping the patient into a shockingly cold bath, to lobotomies and fever cabinets.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Every day, police in the Kansas City metro area are inundated with calls to handle mental illness emergencies.

"Usually more than one time a day,” says Don Ash, sheriff of Wyandotte County, Kan.  “Calls could come in from a family member. Calls could come in from the general public. From a business owner.”

Someone might be picked up for something as simple as loitering or trespassing, and even though it might clearly a mental health emergency, police typically have little choice but to take them to jail or possibly an emergency room.

The State Of Mental Illness In KC

Dec 20, 2012

Mental illness is a problem in every community, but what resources and services are available in Kansas City?

Dan Verbeck / KCUR

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt says badly administered mental health programs should be fixed as a remedy, rather than blame guns, for violence like the Connecticut school killings.

ReShonda Tate Billingsley: The Secret She Kept

Jul 11, 2012

Tia Giles is pregnant, she’s also suffering from a mental illness and her husband Lance must make the difficult decision of committing her to a mental institution to save the baby, his wife and their marriage.