Montana Plans to Reduce Numbers at State Mental Hospital

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Montana health officials have launched a plan to reduce the number of patients at the state mental hospital.

The Montana State Hospital at Warm Springs is averaging about 209 patients — well beyond its licensed maximum of 189. Officials say this is straining staff and resources.

As a result, state health officials began arranging local care contracts last month without competitive bidding. The state has negotiated 28 beds for the mentally ill at J’s House in Missoula and is looking at other sites in Helena, Great Falls, Billings and Miles City.

The plan is expected to cost about $2.3 million over the next 16 months, with funds coming from within the state health care budget.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer says creating community-based treatment saves state money in the long run.