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State investigating patient assault at Montana State Hospital

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Montana State Hospital

The entrance for visitors in one of the buildings located on the campus of the Montana State Hospital at Warm Springs.

State officials and local law enforcement are investigating an assault on a patient by another patient at the state psychiatric hospital Monday evening, the state health department confirmed Tuesday. 

The attack comes at a moment for the Montana State Hospital where severe understaffing has contributed to the "immediate jeopardy" status imposed by the federal inspectors last month. The facility came in $7 million over budget this year after an increasing reliance on contract staff to supplement the ranks.

A spokesperson for Providence St. Patrick Hospital, which has a Level II trauma center, did not immediately return a call seeking a status update on the victim. Sources say the victim was taken to a Missoula hospital.

Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services spokesperson Jon Ebelt on Tuesday confirmed the department is working with local law enforcement but declined to comment further before the conclusion of its investigation.

“DPHHS can confirm a patient-on-patient incident occurred at Montana State Hospital (MSH) Monday evening. At this time, MSH officials are working with local law enforcement and conducting an internal investigation. Until all the facts are known, DPHHS will not be able to comment further.”

A detention officer at the Deer Lodge County jail on Tuesday said no one had been booked into the jail on charges related to an assault at the Warm Springs facility. 

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