Gov. Sam Brownback intends to take the “interim” off Tim Keck’s title.
Keck has served as interim secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services since January. He previously had worked as deputy chief counsel for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
“Tim Keck continues to bring a wealth of knowledge and leadership to KDADS,” Brownback said in a Monday news release. “He has demonstrated a depth of understanding of the needs of disabled Kansans over the past eight months, and will continue to work to address the challenges KDADS currently faces.”
The news came shortly after Keck told staff at Osawatomie State Hospital that he had filed the paperwork to regain Medicare payments for some of the hospital’s psychiatric patients. The hospital had lost the payments due to inspectors’ concerns about patient and staff safety.
KDADS spokeswoman Angela de Rocha said the hospital would be ready for an inspection by the end of August, but she wasn’t sure when inspectors would visit.
Keck also has presided over efforts to deal with staffing shortages at Larned State Hospital and to transfer some patients from Parsons State Hospital and Training Center to community settings.
“I am honored that Governor Brownback has appointed me to this position, and that he has trusted me with the tasks that lie ahead,” Keck said in a news release. “I am committed to serving the most vulnerable Kansans, our aging, the mentally ill and disabled citizens who look to us for assistance. I look forward to working with the governor, the Legislature and those Kansans we serve to meet these challenges.”
The Senate must vote to confirm Keck’s nomination.
One member of the Legislature, Sen. Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat, last month questioned whether Keck could continue to serve because of a state law limiting “acting” secretaries to a six-month tenure. Representatives for Brownback said an “interim” secretary wasn’t subject to the same limits as an “acting” secretary.
Keck was named interim secretary to replace Kari Bruffett, who left KDADS to work as director of policy for the Kansas Health Institute, parent organization of the editorially independent KHI News Service.
Megan Hart is a reporter for KHI News Service in Topeka, a partner in the Heartland Health Monitor team. You can reach her on Twitter @meganhartMC