Information Blackout Shrouds New Reports of Deaths, Injuries, and Abuse at Montana State Hospital

by | Mar 2, 2023 | Health

BUTTE, Mont. — Jennifer Mitchell remembered getting a call nearly two years ago that her 69-year-old husband, Bill, had crashed his car and had been committed to the Montana State Hospital, the state-run psychiatric hospital for adults about 20 miles from their home in Butte.

Physicians thought Bill Mitchell had dementia and could be a danger to himself or others, according to medical records. But once he was admitted, his wife really began to worry. She couldn’t visit him because of covid-19 restrictions, and she couldn’t get details about the care or the medicine he was receiving.

“I tried to get an idea of what he was taking, not taking. I could not get answers,” Jennifer said.

When Bill was discharged after 60 days, Jennifer discovered he had been taken off some of his congestive heart failure medications. A month later, he went into cardiac arrest and was moved to hospice care. He died on July 30, 2021, a day after his 70th birthday.

The psychiatric hospital in southwestern Montana has been under scrutiny since the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services decertified it in April 2022 following investigations into patient deaths and assaults. Federal officials found in the investigations that the hospital had failed to meet Medicare’s “basic health and safety requirements.”

Mitchell said that she was infuriated by the lack of transparency around her husband’s care and that she hoped decertification would force a change for the better. But it’s had the opposite effect. …

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