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Kansas Hospitals Urge Lawmakers to Increase Number of Mental Health Beds

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) – Kansas hospital officials are urging lawmakers to increase the state’s capacity for mental health care.

The Kansas News Service reports that the shortage of such beds is causing a burden for local hospitals. A lack of mental health resources in Kansas is often forcing hospitals to take in people experiencing mental health emergencies.

Hospital leaders recently told a special legislative committee that the lack of mental health beds is leading to emergency rooms filling up.

Val Gleason is the CEO of NMC Health in Newton. She says ERs aren’t fully equipped to provide mental health care, so people needing those services get little support. “Heart attacks in the ER, we know how to do that. But behavioral health is vastly different,” she said.

The Kansas Hospital Association is asking the Legislature to create an annual $5 million fund to reimburse hospitals for taking in mental health patients.