WARM SPRINGS - Overworked. Under-appreciated. Underpaid.
Those are just some of the issues current and former employees of the Montana State Hospital wrote in letters that detailed the conditions and turmoil staff felt during their time inside the hospital.
"It’s a tough job out there. They’re not paid what they deserve and it’s just easy to say enough of it and leave," said State Senator Mark Sweeney.
Six letters from nurses bring to life the conditions they experienced.
One nurse expresses their frustration with the administration writing “We are good enough to step into a violent situation, but not good enough to be paid for doing it.”
Another nurse wrote that the facility had broken more than one Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services guideline writing, “The patients who end up [at the Montana State hospital] do not receive the minimum level of care as set forth by federal CMS guidelines.”
The nurse also wrote: “The hospital is understaffed to the degree that it should not legally receive funding, also per CMS guidelines.”
In a third letter, a nurse wrote about patients that are mentally disordered offenders being moved to a part of the campus that was severely understaffed writing: “We do not have the staff to accommodate this and I fear we will lose more staff. It is going to make the atmosphere more volatile, and people are going to get hurt.”
During the Children's, Families, Health and Human Services committee, nurses and staff members spoke about these issues and how if nothing is done, more staff members will leave.
Senator Mark Sweeney, who received the letters, says that the hospital is a key facility that helps patients get the treatment they need.
"It’s our only state hospital where patients get the treatment they deserve and are required by the state of Montana and by a licensed and professional staff and when that doesn’t happen, you know bad things happen at the hospital," said Sweeney.
The next steps in the situation will rely on an outside management agency that will be looking at the problems.