Each year, Community Mental Health Center of Crawford County Executive Administrator Richard Pfeiffer sends a management analysis to the state, and each year, he tries to further show the state that there is a lack of funding for proper mental health care.
State cuts to Medicaid, as well as other state agencies, went into effect July 1. The four percent cut to Medicaid affected all kinds of medical patients, but Pfeiffer said it is just another setback in an ongoing battle for mental health care.
According to Pfeiffer, CMHCCC has lost a total of nearly $4.3 million in state funding since 2005. The center is also looking at a loss of $1.24 million for fiscal year 2017.
“We reduced our staff by three full-time positions with benefits” for this year, Pfeiffer said. “And we have two retirees that we aren’t replacing, but we still have to provide the same amount of service.”
According to Pfeiffer, loss of state dollars isn’t the only barrier to providing service. Many resources are also no longer available to CMHCCC, one major resource being the Osawatomie State Hospital.
Over the past decade, the number of beds available to community mental health center patients at Osawatomie State Hospital has been reduced to 146 beds.
On June 21, 2015, Former Secretary of the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services Kari Bruffett placed a moratorium on admissions to OSH pursuant to a state statute. The moratorium halts admissions to the state hospital unless their number of patients falls below 146.
“When the number of beds were reduced, the money the state saved was supposed to go to community health centers like ours,” Pfeiffer said. “But the funds never came.”
Until beds open up, patients in need of treatment are placed on a waiting list. Currently, Crawford County has zero patients housed at OSH, and 17 other Kansas community mental health centers have less than 1.5 percent of their patients there, according to an aging and disability services census. The census is based on a 10,000 per capita rate for each of the centers mental health patients.
Pfeiffer said community centers do their best to provide quality treatment in their communities, but some patients require a level of treatment only available at an inpatient facility.
“It’s a situation where people are suffering from chronic, persistent illnesses and there is only one facility that can treat them,” Pfeiffer said. “However, they can’t be admitted to that facility.”
Pfeiffer said the moratorium is supposed to be temporary, but has been in effect for over a year. He said the consequences of the severe shortage of public psychiatric beds included increased homelessness, increased incarceration of mentally ill individuals, increased emergency room visits by persons waiting for mental health treatment and increased violent behavior.
“Everyone of these things has been happening in our community this past year,” Pfeiffer said.
— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.