CMS gives Montana State Hospital extension to fix issues tied to patient deaths

CMS has extended a March 13 deadline for Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs to correct deficiencies connected to patient deaths, the Independent Record reported March 14.  

In February, inspectors uncovered noncompliance issues at the psychiatric hospital and placed the facility on "immediate jeopardy" status. The inspection report, cited by the Independent Record, attributed four patient deaths to the deficiencies, three of which were related to a COVID-19 outbreak the hospital failed to contain and one tied to a series of preventable falls. 

In a March 11 letter to Kyle Fouts, administrator of Montana State Hospital, CMS said it would extend the original March 13 deadline to correct the issues while it considers a new agreement with the hospital "in light of the significant access to care issues for psychiatric hospital services" in the state. A new deadline has not been set yet. 

The new plan under consideration is a systems improvement agreement, which would require the hospital to work with a third party to assist with developing and implementing corrections to the compliance issues. It would also require the hospital to "conduct a root cause analysis of all areas leading to noncompliance." In an email to the Independent Record, a spokesperson for CMS said such agreements are not common but are considered in cases where "access to care may be limited and there is a commitment from the facility to take the necessary steps to come into compliance." 

A spokesperson with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services expressed support for the approach in an email to the news outlet:

"DPHHS is very supportive of this approach, as it aligns with current efforts at [Montana State Hospital] to leverage outside expertise to help analyze and address immediate needs and long-standing issues. We have selected a vendor, and the contract is being finalized between the two parties." 

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