VA temporarily closing 8-bed acute mental health unit



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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The VA Montana Health Care System is temporarily closing its eight-bed acute psychiatric unit at Fort Harrison due to a lack of staffing.

VA Montana spokesman Randy Martin tells The Billings Gazette (http://bit.ly/1E5vQxm ) the unit near Helena has two patients who will continue to receive care, but any future patients will be sent to other hospitals.

Martin says closing the unit made the most sense because it requires four full-time psychiatrists and is the least used. He says the occupancy rate is 34 percent.

VA Montana has two full-time psychiatrists and can employ six. The eight-bed PTSD and substance abuse units each need one full-time psychiatrist and will remain open.

Democratic Sen. Jon Tester says VA Secretary Robert McDonald will visit the state this spring in response to the closure.

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Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Associated Press

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