By Jim Misunas
LARNED — The latest apparent budget casualty for the Larned State Hospital is the director of nursing.
Kimberly Brennan, director of nursing, was told by the interim superintendent of the Larned State Hospital her services were no longer needed July 14.
She was given no warning of her layoff and the dismissal apparently has nothing to do with job performance. She told a friend she had cried about her unexpected departure.
‘There is some restructuring going on with the governor’s budget plan and the secretary of SRS and I was one of the casualties,” she said. “I wasn’t let go for work-related performance. I happened to be at the top of the food chain. Department leaders and certain agencies have been on the list.”
She reported for work July 14, but an hour later, she was gone with the words, ‘We’re letting you go.’
Brennan said other state of Kansas departments in Topeka and other positions elsewhere have been targeted by Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and Rob Siedlecki, secretary of the Kansas Social and Rehabilitation Services.
Brennan said she’s enjoyed working at the Larned State Hospital. She plans to continue to reside in Larned with her husband William. She serves on the Pawnee County Economic Development Commission and with the Larned Area Chamber of Commerce board.
“I’ve enjoyed my time and hold no ill will towards anyone at the Larned State Hospital,” she said. “I’m staying optimistic. There are opportunities, and I will land on my feet.”
Brennan has served as director of nursing in two terms in 2006-2007 and 2009-2011. As an unclassified employee, Brennan has no civil service protection in her job.
“When you’re a unclassified employee, the fact they can let you go is always in the back of your mind,” she said. “My job is something I always liked doing. I looked forward to going to work every day.”
She’s worked in nursing for 38 years. As nursing director, she established goals for a department responsible for the care of 200 Isaac Ray residents, 200 patients at the Dillon and Jung buildings and 90 patients in the Adult Treatment Center Building. The newly-remodeled Dillon and Jung buildings house sexual predators who are considered potentially harmful to the community. The Isaac Ray building houses Department of Corrections residents in addition to other residents.
The majority of the nursing staff are assisted direct care staff. The staff is responsible for 24-hour care. Registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and mental health technicians are assigned for each shift.
“As director, I set the direction of the department which was to provide compassionate care for citizens of our campus,” she said. “They all have unique medical, mental and behavioral issues.”
Brennan believes the anxiety level at Larned State Hospital is higher even since Dr. Robert Connell, Larned State Hospital superintendent was fired July 1. She’s seen five recent resignations by registered nurses.
“Ever since Dr. Connell has been gone, there has been anxiety throughout the building,” she said. “It’s tough times.”