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Psychiatric hospital gets more time to correct deficiencies

March 15, 2022 GMT

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana’s state psychiatric hospital has more time to correct deficiencies that have resulted in patient deaths, the Montana State News Bureau reports.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services initially gave the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs until March 13 to meet certain conditions to remain eligible to receive federal reimbursement.

The deficiencies included not separating patients with COVID-19 from those who weren’t sick, staff not always wearing adequate personal protective equipment and allowing staff to move between patients who were COVID0=-19 positive and negative, sometimes on the same shift. A separate report found the facility, located in a town of about 600, was understaffed.

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Late last week, CMS wrote to hospital administrator Kyle Fouts saying it was extending the deadline, in part because there would be no place else to move some patients if the conditions couldn’t be met.

Instead, CMS will consider entering into a Systems Improvement Agreement with the hospital. The process will also include conducting a root cause analysis of what led to the hospital being out of compliance, the March 11 letter said. A new deadline has not been set.

Montana has chosen a contractor to take over executive management of all its health care facilities, including the state hospital, to provide feedback on how the facilities should be managed. The health department has selected a vendor, and the estimated $2.2 million contract is being finalized, Department of Public Health and Human Services spokesperson Jon Ebelt said.

Four hospital patients died from October through February, three because of COVID-19 and another after frequent falls.

Another patient died in August 2021 after staff ignored her complaints that she couldn’t catch her breath. CMS found hospital officials did not properly investigate her death.