LARNED — Tim Keck, secretary for the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, discussed the future of Larned State Hospital during a public meeting Wednesday at the Pawnee County Courthouse.
“I have no intention of ... moving Larned State Hospital from Larned or privatizing Larned State Hospital,” he said. “We need to keep the hospital here to make it better.”
Keck said the purpose of the meeting was to strengthen the relationship between LSH, the largest psychiatric facility in the state, and the community, which extends beyond Pawnee County.
At present, there are 924.5 employee positions at LSH but only 742 of those are filled, Keck said. It’s been hard to fill positions and keep employees when people have to work as much as 80 hours a week, he added.
Keck and Bill Rein, who became the latest LSH superintendent in June, said loyal employees were being taken for granted, a situation that is slowing changing.
“The main thing was people weren’t feeling respected,” Keck said.
“Things are getting better,” he said. “I would like to get to the point that overtime is voluntary or at least not mandatory as often.”
Keck said officials have looked at several ways to improve working conditions and ease the staffing problems. Day care, training, tuition reimbursement and a better work schedule have been discussed.
Keck also addressed the closure of the Larned Juvenile Correctional Facility in the coming year.
LSH and the Kansas Department of Corrections are working together to determine how the facility should be used. One possibility is relocating the DOC’s Sexual Predator Treatment Program, which is currently housed in an older building on the campus.
LSH also hopes to find jobs for the 140 people the LJCF now employs, Keck said. “I’m hoping we’ll get about 100 to work for us,” he said. “I know it’s fearful for a community to hear that one of your employers is leaving.”