By Jim Misunas
LARNED — Several current and past Larned State Hospital employees will join two Kansas Organization of State Employees in a protest of working conditions at LSH at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Pawnee County Courthouse grounds.
Mike Marvin, head of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, said the protest would focus on aides and mid-level nurses often being required to work two or more 12- or 16-hour shifts a week. KOSE represents many of the hospital’s mental health developmental disability aides and licensed practical nurses. It does not represent the facility’s registered nurses.
“We want to focus on retaining current employees,” Marvin said. “Thirty-five percent of the aides have worked at Larned State Hospital one year or less, which indicates employee turnover.”
Marvin and Scott Towery, KOSE president, and Pastor Paul Runnels of Escue Church with speak along with several LSH employees. Several Larned State Hospital employees have said they have been cautioned to not attend the protest.
Marvin said Larned State workers, “want to feel like they’re doing something. They want to be heard.”
Marvin hopes that employees will talk about the tolls that persistent overtime has taken on their family lives, quality of care for patients and other concerns. Marvin said the union has received ongoing reports from workers complaining about full-time aides and mid-level nurses having to work two or more 12- or 16-hour shifts a week.
Last year, national surveyors cited the hospital for not having enough nurses and for not doing enough to ensure that medications were safely dispensed. The hospital passed a follow-up inspection in October.gvMarvin said workers still are being forced to work double shifts, regardless of their personal circumstances. He said he had told Larned State Hospital Superintendent Thomas Kinlen that unless the issue was resolved, KOSE was prepared to file a complaint with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“It’s not fair to our people and it’s not fair to people they care for,” Marvin said. “When people put in that many hours they make mistakes and when mistakes are made it makes for unsafe conditions.”
Larned State Hospital includes a 90-bed psychiatric unit, a 190-bed forensic unit, and the 177-bed Sexual Predator Treatment Program. All three units often exceed their licensed capacities. Larned State Hospital is one of the three state-run hospitals for the mentally ill in Kansas.