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Budget Cuts lead to Endangered Hospital Workers

Kansas has two state hospitals for the mentally ill – one is Osawatomie and the other in Larned. The budget cuts imposed by Kansas Republicans have devastated both facilities, endangering staff, patients, and the public.

Osawatomie has faced problems with understaffing for years, leading to patient deaths, early release of an unstable patient who murdered someone three days later, and a sexual assault on a staff member who was so isolated she had to be rescued by other patients. The situation is so bad that the hospital lost Medicare certification in 2015, costing the state millions in federal funds.

Larned, which houses sex offenders deemed too dangerous to release, is also hobbled by staff shortages that have put it at risk for being decertified by Medicare. Management has tried to paper over the problem by grinding down workers with forced overtime, but even this practice has not prevented the hospital from falling below federally-mandated minimum staffing levels.