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State hospital administrator out after federal funding loss

April 21, 2022 GMT

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The administrator of Montana’s state psychiatric hospital is leaving his post amid the facility’s loss of Medicare and Medicaid funding for repeated failures to meet health and safety standards, the state health department said Thursday.

Kyle Fouts, who has led the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs since 2019, will begin work on May 9 as administrator at the Intensive Behavior Center in Boulder, the Montana State News Bureau reports. The center is a 12-bed, short-term treatment facility for people with intellectual disabilities,

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had found patients at the Montana State Hospital were in “immediate jeopardy” several times in recent months before revoking the hospital’s federal funding effective on April 12. Payments for patients who were already at the hospital continues for another 30 days, but no new patients would qualify for Medicare or Medicaid reimbursements.

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The hospital’s deficiencies included failing to separate patients with COVID-19 from those who weren’t sick. Three patients died of COVID-19. Another patient died after repeated falls.

The hospital, which had about 142 patients in early April, is also short-staffed and has relied heavily on traveling staff, the agency found.

The Montana State Hospital also failed to adequately investigate the August 2021 death of a patient after staff reportedly ignored her complaints that she wasn’t able to catch her breath, CMS said.

In March, as the hospital was working to avoid the loss of federal funding, a patient was violently assaulted by fellow patients, requiring hospitalization.

The facility is at least $7 million over budget because of hiring traveling staff at a higher cost, the health department has said.

The hospital is reimbursed on average $7 million annually through Medicaid and Medicare, out of about $47 million annually appropriated to the facility by the Legislature, state officials said.

Carter Anderson, inspector general of the state Department of Public Health and Human Services, will serve as interim director of the state hospital in Warm Springs, the health department told state lawmakers in an email.

The state has also hired an outside contractor, Alvarez & Marsal, to evaluate the state’s health care facilities at a cost of $2.2 million.

Fouts has 32 years of supervisory experience in the public sector. A message left at his work phone number seeking comment Thursday was not immediately returned.