KDADS Secretary makes pitch to privatize Osawatomie

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Kansas Dept. for Aging and Disability services is making the case to privatize the Osawatomie State Hospital.

Secretary Tim Keck presented information Wednesday to state lawmakers and community leaders. Over nearly two hours, Keck detailed the history Osawatomie, the issues it has experienced in recent years and steps the state has taken to address the problems.

Looking to the future, Keck detailed a bid from Correct Care Recovery Solutions to rebuild and run Osawatomie, which lost federal certification in 2015. Correct Care runs mental health facilities around the country..

Keck says the organization could operate the hospital at a lower cost and more effectively recruit staff.

The proposal includes expanding to 210 beds. The state would continue to operate its 60-bed acute care unit.

Keck said mental health support is vital.

"The state hospital in Osawatomie started in 1866. It's been there for 150 years," he said. "It's important for the mental system, for the community, mental health centers for the state of Kansas as a whole to have a strong hospital in Osawatomie and maintain it in Osawatomie, Kansas."

Keck said the rebuild project is expected to cost between $100 million and $175 million. He said the contract could be final near the end of the year.