HELENA — After an announcement in September that Intermountain’s residential behavioral health program in Helena was set for a temporary closure, leaders reached an agreement to keep it running through the end of this month. The organization now says they’re planning to continue the program further – for now, at a smaller scale.
Intermountain administrators released a statement to MTN this week.
“The Intermountain Residential program is currently maintaining one cottage,” they said. “We hope to continue to build from there. The future of this program will depend on our ability to hire staff and open more cottages. The Intermountain Staff and Board of Directors remains committed to Intermountain Residential and all of our programs, which serve hundreds of clients in Helena and across Montana.”
The residential program provides long-term behavioral health services to children ages four to 13. In September, Intermountain said they would have to temporarily close the program because of staffing shortages. That meant the families of 16 children who were receiving care at the facility began looking for other alternatives.
Rachel Templeton’s child has been at Intermountain for about 11 months. Templeton and other parents have been outspoken about wanting to avert a closure.
“When we were all in the same crisis together of facing a 30-day closure, we all found each other and we became a pretty tight group,” she told MTN. “We advocated with the staff hard to keep the program running and to let our kids finish treatment.”
Templeton says there simply weren’t many options for this type of care for children like hers. She says she’s stopped looking for alternative placements now that she’s more confident her child will be able to stay. While she’s glad to no longer be in what she called an “emergency situation,” she says it’s still been a stressful experience for these families.
“We're really relieved, we're really grateful that our kids are able to stay there,” she said. “I mean, I'm not going to sugarcoat it: There are some families that had to leave. There was a lot of harm done to staff, to families, to kids. But I think now because of the amazing staff at Intermountain Residential – and those people are incredible – I have a lot of faith and a lot of hope that this program will be okay.”
Intermountain administrators say they are currently hiring for behavioral health specialists at the residential program. Templeton said she hopes people will consider looking at jobs there.
“For people who care about helping kids. I think this would be an amazing place to work,” she said. “The people who are there are really wonderful, fun, caring. They’re some of the best people, honestly, that I have ever met in my life, the people who work at Intermountain Residential. So, yeah, I hope that people looking for jobs, people in the community and Intermountain corporate and the board will just continue to make this program thrive for another 100 years. That's what we need: We need it around for another 100 years.”