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Aug. 30, 2012
TOPEKA Complaints alleging neglect, poor care, and unsanitary conditions at the Sexual Predator Treatment Program at Larned State Hospital have been dismissed.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Wednesday released a nine-page listing of the complaints and a one-sentence statement indicating that a recent four-day inspection of the program had “…resulted in no deficiency citations.”
Miranda Steele, a KDHE spokeswoman, said eight surveyors from the department were unable to substantiate the patients’ complaints.
“KDHE conducted a survey to investigate these complaints and found that no corrective action is required,” Steele said.
Officials at the Department for Aging and Disability Services, which oversees the Sexual Predator Treatment Program, said they welcomed the findings.
“We were confident that the outcome would be positive and we’re pleased with the announced results of the inspection,” said KDADS spokesperson Angela de Rocha. “Hospital staff work constantly to improve treatment and procedures.”
Patients in the Sexual Predator Treatment Program have been convicted of sex crimes, served time in prison, and, prior to their release, were found to be a danger to society and civilly committed.
Since 1994, roughly 250 patients have entered the program. Four have been released; at least 16 have died. At least 12 have returned to prison or been transferred to the state hospital in Osawatomie.
A sampling of the patients’ complaints:
• A unit’s “communal restroom is locked and only one person can use it at a time. In order to get all showers taken, showers have to be taken at night.”
• Not enough activities.
• Nurses were disrespectful.
• Staff did not do enough to prevent a patient’s suicide attempt.
• Patients were not allowed to turn off the overhead lights in their rooms while they slept.
• A wheelchair patient has “huge sores on hips from sitting in dirty diapers all day.”
• A patient with “broken teeth” was denied access to a dentist.
• A patient was “locked up” for not talking with his therapist.
• “They are too short of staff around here. This place does not work.”
The complaints were filed between August 2011 and August 2012.
KDHE officials said the investigation was unrelated to a March survey conducted by The Joint Commission, a national organization that accredits hospitals. The survey cited Larned State Hospital for not having enough nurses and for not doing enough to ensure that medications were safely dispensed.
At the time, 12 of the hospital’s 27 registered nurse positions were vacant; 21 of the 76 licensed practical nurse positions were vacant.
The Joint Commission’s findings put the hospital’s accreditation – and potentially $14.5 million in federal aid – in jeopardy if not corrected by the time surveyors return for an unannounced follow-up inspection between now and Sept. 27.
Rick Cagan, executive director with the Kansas Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said he was surprised to learn that KDHE’s surveyors weren’t able to confirm any of the patients’ complaints.
Cagan said the Governor’s Mental Health Services Planning Council, of which he is a member, will meet at Larned State Hospital on Oct. 26.
“We’ll be talking to patients,” he said. “We want to hear what they have to say.”
Earlier this week, Larned State Hospital officials notified the community mental health centers in western Kansas that its 90-bed inpatient psychiatric unit had 106 patients. The 177-bed Sexual Predator Treatment Program had 217 patients.
The KHI News Service is an editorially independent initiative of the Kansas Health Institute and is committed to timely, objective and in-depth coverage of health issues and the policy making environment. Find more about the News Service at khi.org/newsservice or contact us at (785) 783-2529.