Budget cuts affect veterans in long-term care

TOPEKA — A hall that houses long-term care patients at the Kansas Veterans' Home will close at least temporarily as part of state budget cuts.

Triplett Hall was built to house 40 long-term patients and 21 assisted-living residents, but has never operated at capacity because of revenue shortfalls, superintendent Jim Hays said.

Its 14 current residents will be moved to another long-term care hall at the home.

Hays said he hoped Triplett Hall would eventually be reopened. The closing is to help the home meet $157,430 in state budget cuts, part of a package of nearly $260 million in cuts announced recently by Gov. Mark Parkinson.

"Given the number of budget cuts and the significant shortfall this year, it is going to be incredibly difficult to maintain the quality and level of care these veterans deserve," Hays said.

The remainder of the veterans' home budget cuts will come from staffing reductions — nine in all — that will go into effect in February, he said. More than three-quarters of the facility's budget goes to salaries, so it is hard to cut the budget without cutting positions, he said.

The veterans' home opened in 2001 at the site of the former Winfield State Hospital and Training Center. It houses 136 residents in four halls and offers services to veterans and their spouses or former spouses, Hays said.

The state Commission on Veterans Affairs had $818,276 eliminated from its budget, which started July 1, in the latest round of cuts.

The Veterans' Home receives about $3.3 million from the state, or about one-third of its annual budget, Hays said. The remainder is split almost evenly between fees the residents pay and money from the federal Veterans Administration.