Senate President Ty Masterson, R-Andover, and Gov. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, supported state appropriations to finance construction of a new state psychiatric hospital in Sedgwick County to meet demand for inpatient mental health services and the evaluation and treatment of people held in the Sedgwick County Jail. On Friday, a site in southwest Wichita was chosen for the hospital. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)
By Tim Carpenter, Kansas Reflector
TOPEKA — The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services and Sedgwick County Commission chose property in southwest Wichita for construction of a new state psychiatric hospital expected to provide at least 50 inpatient treatment beds.
A committee of representatives from KDADS and Sedgwick County considered 11 properties and three buildings before recommending Friday the use of open land at MacArthur and Meridian for construction of the South Central Regional Psychiatric Hospital. The Sedgwick County Commission authorized final negotiations for acquisition of land to be donated by the Lange Community Foundation.
A tentative timeline would allow construction to begin in 2025. The budget included $15 million appropriated by the state and $25 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding earmarked for the project. The hospital for the mentally ill, would be owned, secured and operated by KDADS, could open by 2027.
Kansas operates state psychiatric hospitals in Osawatomie and Larned, but both were more than a two-hour drive from Wichita and neither had capacity to meet the state’s need for in-patient services.
The new hospital would be anchored in the Wichita population center to address a concentration of demand for inpatient services. Nearly 20% of patients admitted to state hospitals in Osawatomie and Larned came from Sedgwick County.
“Selecting a site lets us move forward with the design process and allows us to have a more focused conversation with residents and a discussion with stakeholders about incorporating state hospital services into what is already available in Sedgwick County and the region as a whole,” said KDADS deputy secretary Scott Brunner.
The South Central Regional Psychiatric Hospital would deliver inpatient care to patients with acute mental illness. Plans call for inclusion of adult forensic beds to shorten time required for completion of psychiatric evaluations of people held at the county jail, KDADS said.
Senate President Ty Masterson, an Andover Republican, said when the bipartisan State Finance Council unanimously voted to provide $15 million for the project that he understood the necessity for a Wichita regional state hospital, noting “it needs to be done.”
The objective has been to establish a state hospital in south-central Kansas with at least 50 beds, but final design of the facility could result in as many as 100 beds.
“All of us on the review committee and involved in the site selection process are excited to continue progress toward building the regional hospital,” Brunner said.
In August, Gov. Laura Kelly issued an executive order establishing a 14-person advisory panel to make recommendations on the hospital’s location, workforce needs and operation. The panel has responsibility for considering how the new hospital could best fit into region’s need for mental health services.
This article was reprinted with permission from the Kansas Reflector. The Kansas Reflector is a non-profit online news organization serving Kansas. For more information on the organization, go to its website at www.kansasreflector.com.