TOPEKA — The state of Kansas has signed a contract to open a 14-bed licensed acute mental hospital in Hays in 2023 for youths up to age 18, officials said Monday.
The facility to be operated by KVC Hospitals, a network of nonprofit children’s mental hospitals and residential treatment centers, would help fill a void in western Kansas for services sought by children in crisis . After the closure of a children’s hospital at Larned State Hospital, KVC provided psychiatric inpatient services for inpatient youth from 2010 to 2019.
The contract with the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services through 2027 would include 10 “no-ejection, no-rejection” beds for patients in the Larned State Hospital area struggling with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and trauma.
“This facility will provide essential mental health services to an underserved area of our state,” said Governor Laura Kelly, who is seeking re-election in 2022. “My administration is committed to making continuous improvements like these- here for all the children of Kansans.”
KVC Hospitals agreed to provide a comprehensive medical, clinical and nursing assessment within 24 hours of admission, round-the-clock supervision by trained nurses, intensive psychiatric care and medication management, case coordination and an innovative treatment to help young people regulate their emotions.
“As we continue to see an increasing number of young people in crisis with more severe symptoms, these services are needed at Hays more than ever,” said Bobby Eklofe, president of KVC Hospitals.
Laura Howard, secretary of KDADS, said the facility would reduce wait times for children requiring surgery. The contract comes at a time of “critical consequences” for child psychiatry services in Kansas, she said.
KDADS worked with the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund and the Wichita State University Community Engagement Institute to develop strategies to maintain the adequate staff needed to provide acute inpatient psychiatric services to children. The conversation led to Hays’ selection for a hospital that could stabilize young people and equip them with the skills and resources to continue treatment in home communities.