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Kansas proposal would re-open Rainbow hospital, contract with Wyandot for crisis care

February 11, 2014
by Alison Knopf, Contributing Writer
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Gov. Brownback says short-term crisis, sobering services will reduce use of ERs, jails

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is proposing to reopen the Rainbow Mental Health Facility, shut down in 2011 for safety violations, as a 10-bed “crisis stabilization” facility where law enforcement officers can bring people experiencing a mental health crisis, according to the Topeka Capitol-Journal.

Under the proposal, private mental health agencies would work to reopen the aging 50-bed facility in Kansas City and provide the crisis-related services. The local Mental Health Coalition supports the plan - with caution - according to spokeswoman Amy Campbell. “As long as they continue to follow that path, we're excited about what can be accomplished here,” she said.

The Kansas Department for Aging Disability Services would contract with the Wyandot Center, also in Kansas City, for $3.5 million a year for three years to administer the crisis program. The proposal would also increase funding for Osawatomie State Hospital, which added 30 beds after Rainbow was closed in 2011.

Peter Zevenbergen Jr., president and CEO of Wyandot, is ready to take on the project, saying a mental health facility is a far better place for people in mental health crisis than jail. “We want to get people in our jails who are suffering from mental illness into an appropriate treatment setting, and we want to get our law enforcement officers back on the street, Zevenbergen said.

In addition to the 10 beds, which could be used for stays lasting more than 24 hours, the reopened Rainbow will have short-term (less than 24 hours) “sobering” beds for drug and alcohol detoxification and triage. Drug or alcohol detoxification typically takes at least a week, and in many cases can be managed in the community.

“This is the most significant change we have made to the Kansas mental health system in two decades,” Governor Brownback said. “Our goal is to establish and support alternative community programs that will decrease reliance on Osawatomie State Hospital and the unnecessary use of local emergency rooms, community hospitals, and jails.”

Most Rainbow patients were transferred to Osawatomie in 2011. Rainbow has since been renovated to meet safety requirements.

 

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