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Teen Unit Closes, Idaho

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Psych hospital closes teen unit during construction


By Melissa McGrath

Idaho Statesman | Edition Date: 12/13/06




A private psychiatric hospital in Boise threatened with the loss of its state license to treat adolescents said Tuesday that it will close that portion of the hospital providing residential treatment for teens until the hospital completes an expansion. Intermountain Hospital, 303 N. Allumbaugh St., has been told by the state to correct problems with the teen program by February or face loss of the program's license.


The residential program for teens has had problems with patient abuse and overuse of physical and chemical restraints, among other problems, a state Health and Welfare Department spokesman said. The rest of the hospital has not had any major problems, the spokesman said.


Intermountain's Chief Executive Officer Rick Bangert said the teen program, which has 16 patients, is closing because of the hospital's ongoing construction. He plans to reopen the program in 2007 after completing the expansion, which will add nearly 90 beds to the 127 there now.


"During that period of time, we will complete construction,we will bring some people together that run residential programs, and we're going to look at how to put together the very best (program)," Bangert said. "When we're ready to reopen, we'll have the very best."


The residential treatment program is designed for children ages 12-18 with serious behavioral problems who need care for from two to 12 months. The rest of the psychiatric hospital treats both adults and adolescents and is licensed separately.


Ross Mason, a spokesman for Health and Welfare, said the residential program was given a provisional license in August. The state gave Intermountain six months to correct its problems or face the loss of the license, Mason said.


The state learned of Intermountain's problems in July when Boise police responded to a patient riot in the residential treatment unit, Mason said.


Intermountain also has had problems with the excessive use of physical and chemical restraints and with patient abuse, Mason said.


Heather Evers of Bellingham, Wash., is transferring her 14-year-old daughter from Intermountain to a hospital in Nevada later this week. Evers said she probably would have transferred her daughter from Intermountain even if the residential program wasn't closing. Evers said her daughter sneaked out of her room multiple times in the last month and once took the wrong



Still, she feels for the other children who have to be transferred in the next two weeks.


"The biggest heartache for the children is the break in their continuity of care," Evers said.


Bangert said about 10 of the 16 patients in the program right now will have completed their treatment by Christmas. Intermountain will help transfer the remaining six patients to other psychiatric programs.


Most of the patients are not from Idaho.


Intermountain sent the state a letter Tuesday, saying that it planned to close the program Dec. 29 but that it would reapply for a license next year.


Psychiatric Solutions Inc., a company that operates more than 50 psychiatric facilities nationwide, bought Intermountain Hospital in 2005. The company broke ground in April on its construction project.


Contact reporter Melissa McGrath at mmcgrath@idahostatesman.com or 377-6439. 

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