Kelly announces advisory panel appointments for proposed psychiatric hospital in Sedgwick County


Gov. Laura Kelly has announced appointments for an advisory panel tasked with gathering public input and making recommendations on the operation, location, and workforce development needs of the proposed 50-bed psychiatric hospital in south central Kansas.

According to a news release from her office Monday, of the 14 appointments, eight members are from Wichita.

They are:

  • Scott Brunner, Topeka
  • Sarah Lopez, Wichita
  • Tom Stolz, Wichita
  • Marc Bennett, Cheney
  • Sen. Usha Reddi, Manhattan
  • Rep. KC Ohaebosim, Wichita
  • Rep. Henry Helgerson, Eastborough
  • Rep. Will Carpenter, El Dorado
  • Jeff Easter, Wichita
  • Claudio Ferraro, Wichita
  • LaTasha St. Arnault, Wichita
  • Mary Jones, Wichita
  • Joan Tammany, Wichita
  • Jason Gregory, Cheney

On Aug. 28, Kelly signed Executive Order 23-05 establishing the South Central Regional Psychiatric Hospital Advisory Panel.

The panel will examine how a state hospital would fit into existing or planned services in the region and identify existing resources, gaps in services, and opportunities to improve access to mental health services.

“To achieve a healthier Kansas, we must make mental health services more accessible and affordable,” Kelly in August. “That’s exactly what this advisory panel will achieve by laying the groundwork for a psychiatric hospital that offers care closer to home, cuts wait times, and expands the services offered and constituents served in south central Kansas.”

According to her office, Kelly announced in May that the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Service had awarded $25 million to Sedgwick County to create a new regional hospital designed to address statewide shortages of health and behavioral health services and the state’s increasing demand for a well-trained health care workforce.

In addition, $15 million State General Fund was earmarked by the State Finance Council in December 2022 for the planning and initial design work for a regional state psychiatric hospital.

KDADS entered into an agreement in March 2023 with Sedgwick County to provide funding for planning, design, and other services related to the construction of the hospital.

Kansas currently operates state psychiatric hospitals in Osawatomie and Larned.

A regional hospital in south central Kansas will address the shortage of in-patient mental health beds in the region and allow patients to remain closer to home and family while receiving care. It will also lessen jail overcrowding by shortening the wait time for inmates pending evaluations or treatment.

The advisory panel will provide an interim report to the Governor and the Sedgwick County Commission by January 15, 2024, with a final report due June 30, 2024.