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Montana State Hospital spending is $7 million over budget

Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services building
Montana Public Radio
Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services building

The Montana health department says the state hospital is projected to spend about $7 million over its budget due to staffing issues. The end of the fiscal year is still months away.

The state hospital in Warm Springs is seeing a 72% vacancy rate for registered nurse positions, 62% for psychiatric technicians and 54% for forensic mental health technicians.

Health department director Adam Meier told lawmakers the hospital relies on temporary contract workers to fill those vacancies and stay operational. Due to high health care staff demand, contract workers earn upwards of double permanent staff wages.

Meier says paying such high wages is not sustainable. The department plans to use contingency funds to make up for the increased cost, and will request supplemental funds from the federal government, but not the state.

The state hospital was warned by federal inspectors earlier this month that it could lose its funding if it didn’t make changes to enhance patient safety. A report found the facility had failed to prevent serious patient falls and deaths related to COVID-19.

Shaylee covers state government and politics for Montana Public Radio. Please share tips, questions and concerns at 406-539-1677 or  
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