Psych Patients Sent to Homeless Shelters
The state’s psychiatric hospital for adults in Deer Lodge has been discharging patients to homeless shelters with no plan for care and sometimes without warm clothes and without medications.
Disability Rights Montana reported of at least 16 instances of state hospital patients being discharged straight to homeless shelters, which the organization says are not equipped to care for recent psychiatric patients who often need ongoing care or prescriptions.
The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services explained that when a patient no longer meets the legal and medical criteria required to remain hospitalized, the department can’t keep them in custody, so some patients can end up in homeless shelters because there is nowhere else for them to go due to a lack of community resources.
The shelters are unable to house some patients because of violent behavior and that forces them back onto the streets. In many cases, those individuals wind up back in jail and are, in turn sent back to the psychiatric hospital.
DPHHS says that they are working to improve their discharge practices. Disability Rights Montana is threatening to sue if they don’t improve.