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Psychiatric Hospital to Close 14 Beds

KANSAS CITY, Ks. – The Kansas Department of Social Services plans to close 14 in-patient psychiatric beds at Rainbow Mental Health Facility in Kansas City, Kansas, lowering the number of beds there from 50 to 36. Bill Miskell, a spokesperson for the department, says a recent Centers for Medicare and Medicaid review found the public facility does not have enough staff to operate all of its units.

"In order for us to staff appropriately and be accredited for four units, it would cost us an additional $812,000 a year," Miskell says.

Miskell says that's money the department doesn't have right now. The state budget for this year includes an additional $250,000 cut from the facility.

"The most effective way that we can meet the budget reductions that we're facing currently is taking the 14 beds off line," Miskell says. "It's not something we do lightly."

Closing 14 beds may not sound like a lot, but Pete Zevenbergen says it is. He's the director of Wyandotte Center, a community mental health center. He says as it stands, Rainbow is often at or over capacity.

"What happens is that frequently we get emails on weekends or on Fridays saying, 'please don't admit anyone because we're full,'" says Zevenbergen. "So then you're scrambling to try to find a place to keep people safe and secure and provide some sort of adequate care in the community."

Rainbow is the main source of in-patient psychiatric care for Wyandotte, Johnson, and Leavenworth counties. Last year, it was over census 36% of the time, compared to 5% in 2007. Zevenbergen says the pending bed closures may mean more people in need of treatment end up in jail. And, he says the closures will add more strain to a community mental health system that's already struggling. Compared to five years ago, he says, Wyandotte Center will be down about $4 million in state assistance this year.

"If I had adequate resources to try to create alternatives to Rainbow, that would be wonderful," Zevenbergen says. "But we're basically double, tripling the problem by removing money from the community based organization's ability to provide services to people."

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