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Commissioners discuss proposal for Cushing building

Company proposes for-profit psychiatric hospital

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times
The former Saint Luke's Cushing Hospital building is now owned by the Leavenworth County government.

A company is proposing to use a portion of the former Saint Luke’s Cushing Hospital building for a for-profit psychiatric hospital.

Representatives of the Tennessee-based CenterPointe Behavioral Health System met Wednesday with Leavenworth County commissioners.

The county government owns the former hospital building.

Officials with CenterPointe propose leasing the third floor and possibly the fourth floor of the Cushing building to operate a 20-bed adult inpatient psychiatric hospital that also offers outpatient services.

Commission Chairman Doug Smith said the proposal is still preliminary.

Representatives of CenterPointe Behavioral Health System discuss a proposal Wednesday with Leavenworth County commissioners. Pictured are Lisa St. Aubyn, chief executive officer of Signature Psychiatric Hospital, Jim Shaheen, vice president of outpatient development for CenterPointe, and Buddy Turner, chief executive officer of CenterPointe.

Officials with CenterPointe planned to tour the former hospital building Wednesday afternoon after their meeting with the County Commission.

Saint Luke’s Cushing Hospital closed in October, and the building was donated to the county.

Commissioners have discussed using at least a portion of the building for county agencies such as the Council on Aging and Leavenworth County Health Department.

CenterPointe operates several hospitals in Missouri including Signature Psychiatric Hospital, which has locations in North Kansas City and Liberty.

Jim Shaheen, vice president of outpatient development for CenterPointe, said company officials have met with various stakeholders in the area and believe there is a need for the proposed hospital in Leavenworth County.

He said a large number of residents have to leave the community to receive psychiatric services.

“We see this as an opportunity to keep folks close to home,” he said.

Buddy Turner, CenterPointe’s chief executive officer, said a lot of work would be required to renovate space at the former Cushing building for the psychiatric hospital.

“We would be responsible for the renovation of the building,” he said.

A written proposal prepared by the company indicates the investment could be up to $5 million.

Shaheen said CenterPointe also would have the opportunity to form a partnership with The Guidance Center, a nonprofit community mental health organization that serves Leavenworth County.

Shaheen suggested a portion of the Cushing building’s third floor could be used for a crisis stabilization center operated by The Guidance Center.

Keith Rickard, executive director of The Guidance Center, said a crisis stabilization center would serve people who have mental health crises but do not meet the criteria for admission to a hospital.

He said it is possible state funding could be provided to help establish such a facility in Leavenworth.

County commissioners listen Wednesday to a proposal for the former Saint Luke's Cushing Hospital building. Pictured are Commissioner Jeff Culbertson and Commission Chairman Doug Smith.

Commissioner Mike Stieben asked questions about the security of the proposed psychiatric hospital, which could be located in the same building as county agencies.

In a preliminary design, the hospital is a self-contained unit, Shaheen said.

Lisa St. Aubyn, chief executive officer of Signature Psychiatric Hospital, said hospitals all over the country have psychiatric units.

“For the most part, you’re behind a locked door and nobody knows you’re there,” she said.

Commissioner Vicky Kaaz said there are many misconceptions about people who receive mental health treatment.

If the proposal from CenterPointe is approved, the tax exempt status of the Cushing building would cease, Smith said.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR

In other business

The Leavenworth County Commission:

• Approved a bid from Dondlinger Construction, Wichita, in the amount of $612,269 for the replacement of a bridge on 158th Street.

• Voted to send an amended sanitary code for the county to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for review.