LARNED — On Friday, Jan. 21, a contingent of officials from Topeka met with a number of groups in Larned to discuss concerns at Larned State Hospital. Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services Secretary Laura Howard, Deputy Secretary Scott Brunner, Will Lawrence and Ryan Wright from the gvernor’s office, and LSH Superintendent Lesia Dipman met with several groups during the day.
Attending one of the meetings were Mayor William Nusser, City Councilman Kim Barnes and City Manager Bradley Eilts, along with Pawnee County Commissioners Bob Rein and Deborah Lewis. Also in attendance were Rita Kurtz and Sabrina Quinn.
Later in the day the contingent from Topeka met with area law enforcement officials and toured LSH facilities.
Among the topics discussed were security issues and staffing shortages at LSH. After the last escape at LSH, a number of follow-up meetings have been held with local officials at the hospital with area law enforcement to discuss how to improve security. It has helped in lowering barriers of cooperation between the two groups.
“I appreciate that KDADS and the governor’s office have taken the time to reach out to us,” said Larned Mayor William Nusser. “We want to focus on doing what we can to support the hospital and their staff. We want to help keep Larned State Hospital a strong facility in our community.”
It was pointed out to the group that LSH should be on the same pay scale as the jobs at the Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility operated by the Department of Corrections. Employees at LSH not only are involved in security issues but they must also be proficient in mental health care.
“We realize the importance of Larned State Hospital to our area,” Rein said. “It is a facility we want and must have. We are willing to help the State of Kansas in solving any problems that are experienced there and I am pleased that these folks from Topeka have taken the initiative to come and meet with us. I also want to say that we think that the administration at LSH is doing a good job of addressing these issues. Superintendent Lesia Dipman understands our community. She gets our support. She is who we want out there.”
Local officials attending the meeting were told the state would soon be rolling out some new advertising and promotional videos concerning jobs at Larned State Hospital. A few years ago, the City of Larned undertook a branding and employee recruitment campaign that included creation of “Larned Cares”, videos, information development and marketing and LSH’s “Be the One” campaign.