WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – It is a big step forward for mental health care in South Central Kansas.
The Sedgwick County Commission approved a plan Wednesday, signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to work with the state to build a psychiatric hospital in Sedgwick County.

Right now, the only state psychiatric hospitals are in Larned and Osawatomie.

“This MOU is a big step in the right direction for the needs here in Sedgwick County,” Commissioner Ryan Baty said. “We wanted to take the lead in this project so that we can architecture, a site selection, all these things have to happen. Sedgwick County is going to take the lead, and then, the state’s going to take over operations.”

The psychiatric hospital would have 50 beds with the potential to expand to 100.

The MOU outlines project finances.

“We have $15 million that’s already set aside from the state. Then, we’ve requested a SPARK grant which is ARPA funding for $25 million more dollars. Plus, the ’24 appropriation of another $15 million,” Baty explained.

The next step is to get the SPARK grant approved. After that, the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services will work with the county to establish design expectations.

“You can’t really put any kind of construction RFP out on the street without really, you know, a solid design, specifications, things like that,” said Scott Brunner, KDADS’ Deputy Secretary for Hospitals and Facilities.

Commissioner David Dennis says as soon as the money is transferred, they can begin assembling a committee to work on finding a location to pitch to KDADS and the commission.

“We will be very transparent and open on how we go through this process of deciding the location, deciding who the builder is going to be, deciding who the architects gonna be. All of the steps that you have to get to build it,” Dennis explained.

The ARPA funds bring tight project deadlines.

“You gotta have it allocated by December of 2024 and expended by December of 2026,” Dennis said.

Brunner says they hope to have confirmation on the sparks funding next week.