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Montana State Hospital faces 'immediate jeopardy' designation

Montana State Hospital
Posted at 9:30 AM, Feb 18, 2022

WARM SPRINGS — The Montana State Hospital is facing an 'Immediate Jeopardy' designation after an inspection by a federal agency.

The Montana Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS) has confirmed that inspectors from the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) were onsite at the psychiatric hospital last week.

“The CMS team preliminarily indicated that findings might reach Immediate Jeopardy (IJ) status, so DPHHS is proactively working towards corrective action as if that is the case," DPPHS spokesman Jon Eblet wrote in an email.

According to the CMS state operations manual, Immediate Jeopardy represents a situation in which noncompliance has placed the health and safety of recipients in its care at risk for serious injury, serious harm, serious impairment, or death.

This designation comes after a report released last September detailing a patient’s death and falls that resulted in patient injuries.

State Senator Mark Sweeney says that news of the designation is disheartening as he has been trying to bring attention to the issue for months.

"Very, very discouraging so think that writing was on the wall that it was heading this way and so it’s a big disappointment," said Sweeney.

In January, the Children, Families, Health and Human Services committee listened to former and current nurses, staff members and leaders about the issues plaguing the Montana State Hospital.

"There was no sense of leadership, no foundation for working for the common good and hundreds of loyal staff had resigned as a result of the punitive, authoritarian rule of the current leadership," said Hope Hollingsworth, a former employee of the hospital.

Sweeney says that the administration needs to focus all its efforts on getting the hospital back where it needs to be.

"I think that’s through bold decisions on management changes. It’s not rocket science, it’s one hospital that they need to make sure patients get the care that they are promised," said Sweeney.

CMS has not released the report yet, but DPHHS expects to receive it soon.