A bill to boost oversight of the State Hospital advances to the House
A bill that would increase independent oversight of the Montana State Hospital passed the Senate on Tuesday.
The bill would automatically send reports of abuse, neglect, death and other incidents at the state hospital to Disability Rights Montana within five days.
The state hospital lost federal oversight and funding last year following patient deaths. Disability Rights Montana Executive Director Bernie Franks-Ongoy says that loss makes her organization’s role in protecting state hospital patients even more important.
“Previous to this, we had to know about the incident and then make a request for the records,” she said.
She adds that this bill would make sure Disability Rights Montana knows about all incidents of neglect and abuse at the facility. The bill will now move to the House for consideration.
Families of former Montana State Hospital patients are suing the state. They say the state failed to prevent neglect, injuries and other issues at the psychiatric facility.
The Montana State Hospital’s forensic unit has been struggling for years to keep up with the number of inmates criminally committed to the facility. That’s led to long wait times in jail cells for inmates awaiting treatment. State health officials said they have a way to fix the problem.
Montana Free Press reporter Mara Silvers joined MTPR's Austin Amestoy with details about the Montana Health Department hiring a New York based consulting firm to guide the state as it undergoes a multiyear overhaul of its behavioral health services.
Health department officials are asking legislators to change criminal commitment laws amid a bottleneck at the Montana State Hospital.
Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is recommending construction resumes on a project updating the wastewater treatment facility at the Montana State Hospital. The state issued a stop work order earlier this month, after learning that 3 million gallons of partially treated wastewater had leaked into Warm Springs Creek.
Three million gallons of partially treated wastewater has leaked into Warm Springs Creek. The spill happened during upgrades to the water treatment plant at the Montana State Hospital.