Officials seek upgrades at mental health facility

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 10, 2013 at 12:58 pm •  Published: February 10, 2013
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Costs for workers' compensation claims climbed from $800,000 in the 2005 fiscal year to nearly $3.4 million in 2012. Statistically, an employee who spends 30 years directly involved with patient care at Biggs experiences six serious injuries that require emergency room care. Some of those injuries can be life-alternating, including traumatic brain injuries and permanent physical injuries.

The oldest part of Biggs was built in 1937. Patient wards include a room with tables and seating. Extending back from that room is a long hallway with patient rooms. Officials say sightlines are poor and hallways are narrow, while echoes and an environment with significant stimulation can contribute to patients becoming agitated.

"For people with serious mental illness, that is absolutely devastating to their efforts to recover and to be calm," Stringer said.

Proposals for bond-funded capital projects are gaining momentum this year at the Capitol. Nixon devoted part of his State of the State speech to the idea. And this past week, a House committee established to evaluate bonding proposals reviewed a measure sponsored by House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka.

Money for capital improvements has been limited in recent years, and the toll has mounted. For example, state parks could use $400 million and the four-campus University of Missouri system reports a $1.3 billion backlog of renovation and repair projects.

Described as merely a conversation-starter, Jones is proposing $950 million in bonds. Of that, $250 million would go for state facilities with at least $40 million for parks. The remainder would go for higher education projects, including those at community colleges.

Nixon has not offered a specific dollar figure for a bond package but says he prefers it to be less than $1 billion with proceeds directed to K-12 school districts, higher education, state facilities and parks and the Fulton State Hospital. The governor said Missouri has a "moral responsibility" to patients and caregivers to provide an environment that is safe, secure and conducive to healing.

"It's old, and it needs to be replaced," Nixon said.

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