Under pressure, Bozeman hospital considers adding psych beds

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Protesters march along the sidewalk in front of Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital to request that the health system provide inpatient psychiatric beds for those dealing with mental illness. (Olivia Weitz/Yellowstone Public Radio)

Olivia Weitz/Yellowstone Public Radio KATHERYN HOUGHTON Kaiser Health News

Every day for months, Gary Popiel drove more than 200 miles round trip to visit his adult daughters in separate behavioral health facilities, where they received psychiatric and medical treatment.

It was 2000, and the family’s only options for inpatient psychiatric beds were in Helena and Missoula — far from their Bozeman, Montana, home and from each other. Fast-forward 21 years, and Montana’s fourth-largest city still lacks a hospital behavioral health unit.

“This would be just as traumatic now as it was then. We still would have to leave Bozeman,” Popiel said. “Why should families have to witness their loved one being hauled off or take them themselves to another facility — or outside the state — to receive help?”

For years, health care workers and people such as Popiel who’ve had

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