Support Local Journalism


Subscribe


Bozeman Health has been taking a bit of beating on this page, from column writers, letter writers and the Chronicle editorial board, for its lack of inpatient psychiatric care at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital.

Offered a chance to respond, the organization did so with a column published Tuesday, March 23. While recognizing the sincerity and seriousness with which the column writers addressed the issue, the piece left at least one glaring question unanswered: Why is Bozeman — which sits in the third largest statistical area in the state — the only one of Montana’s largest cities without inpatient psychiatric care?

The column writers outlined extensive committee work that has been done to address the problem, but found, based on a study concluded in December, “current patient volumes would not support a high-quality program that would enable the recruitment and retention of high caliber professionals to care for those in an inpatient behavioral health setting.”

This in a city of 50,000-plus people with the state’s largest university campus with some 16,000 students — people at one of the most difficult mental and emotional stages of their lives — while Helena, with a population of only 32,000, has a total of 60 beds in two hospitals dedicated to adult and juvenile psychiatric inpatient care.

It strains logic.

We do understand that psychiatric care is complicated and difficult and that those services are not compensated by insurers as well as other specialties — like neonatal or cardiac care. And we also understand Bozeman Health’s financial viability is of paramount importance. A health care provider won’t be providing health care for long if it’s losing money. We also acknowledge Bozeman Health must refer patients to out-of-town providers for some specialties — open heart surgery for example.

But a patient in acute psychiatric crisis is in a uniquely intense and urgent situation that is only worsened if they are sent out of town to another hospital with inpatient psychiatric care — away from familiar surroundings and the support of family and friends. And Bozeman Health enjoys nonprofit tax-free status. As part of that, it is expected to balance the needs of the community with potential revenue from services rendered.

The Bozeman Health board of directors is urged to reconsider this issue immediately.

Dedicating a ward to inpatient psychiatric care will be challenging and costly. But in the end, the evidence is overwhelming: It’s also necessary.


Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Michael Wright, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Charles Rinker, community member
  • Will Swearingen, community member
  • Angie Wasia, community member

To send feedback on editorials, either leave a comment on the page below or write to citydesk@dailychronicle.com.

Support Local Journalism

To see what else is happening in Gallatin County subscribe to the online paper.


Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Michael Wright, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Will Swearingen, community member
  • Angie Wasia, community member

To send feedback on editorials, write to citydesk@dailychronicle.com.