MEA-MFT testimony on Montana State Hospital

Mr. Chairman, members of the subcommittee,


My name is Terry Minow. I represent MEA-MFT. MEA-MFT represents employees at Montana State Hospital.


I am rising in support of adequate funding at Montana State Hospital. Our members work hard every day to help patients with serious mental illness get better and back on their feet. They work to keep patients safe, provide quality mental health care, and prepare patients for going back into the community. It is tough work, sometimes dangerous work.


The issues that bring patients to Montana State Hospital are serious. Adequate staffing is essential, for the safety of the patients and the staff.


We ask that Montana State Hospital not be subject to the additional cuts your subcommittee adopted at the beginning of this process. We again emphasize the importance of funding overtime and holiday pay—in a 24/7 facility, these costs are real and must be funded.


Vacancy savings, budget cuts, and inadequate funding are not abstractions to Montana State Hospital staff. Inadequate funding can have a real, even a tragic, effect on Montana State Hospital staff and the people they serve.


It is difficult to fill positions at Montana State Hospital. In the LFA budget analysis, at the bottom of page B-310, this is addressed under Program Specific Obstacles. Recruitment and retention are a serious problem. Adequate staffing and passing the pay plan are essential to make sure that problem does not get even worse.


Please consider these issues and their ramifications as you make your decisions about funding for Montana State Hospital.


Thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the subcommittee.