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.
State health officials have removed two top leaders at the Montana State Hospital (MHS), according to a watchdog group. A new interim administrator is overseeing the facility.
Patient injuries, abuse, and neglect have continued at the Montana State Hospital since the state-run psychiatric facility lost its federal certification due to preventable patient deaths. But state officials won’t release details, citing laws making those reports confidential.
State health officials Thursday updated lawmakers on their plan to improve care at the Montana State Hospital and to apply for federal recertification in roughly 18 months. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services pulled certification following patient deaths, blocking Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements from flowing to the state hospital.
The state’s only psychiatric hospital for adults has been discharging patients to homeless shelters with no plan for care and sometimes without medications, according to a report from a designated watchdog group.
The amended agreement with Alvarez & Marsal went into effect Oct 1.
Gov. Greg Gianforte on Thursday gave a preview of a proposed budget he’ll unveil in full this week, saying it would provide historic tax cuts and investments in services for Montana.