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Acadia Montana Treatment Center in Butte

Workers put up a chain link fence inside Acadia Montana Treatment Center, 55 Basin Creek Road in Butte. The facility was building a second fence to deter escape attempts. The troubled residential psychiatric treatment facility for children that has operated in Butte under several different names and owners over the past 31 years, announced Tuesday it will close.

Acadia Montana, the troubled residential psychiatric treatment facility for children that has operated in Butte under several different names and owners over the past 31 years, announced Tuesday it will close.

It was not immediately clear how many jobs would be lost, though Butte-Silver Bow Chief Executive Dave Palmer said the number could be more than 100.

Palmer called the closure "a devastating blow" to Butte's economy. He said Acadia Montana informed county officials of the impending closure Monday night.

“It’s not just bad for Butte, it’s bad all the way around. It’s over 100 good paying jobs that are going away,” Palmer said. “Somedays you wish you could get ahead. You bring in a place that brings 10 jobs or 15 jobs, and then you lose 100. It’s like one step forward and two steps back.”  

Late Tuesday afternoon, Acadia issued the following statement:

"After careful consideration, Acadia Montana has elected to cease operations at its residential treatment facility in Butte. We will work collaboratively with state agencies, patients and their families to provide seamless discharges and safe transitions to appropriate behavioral treatment programs and levels of care. All patients will be discharged by July 31, 2019. Throughout this transition, the safety and well-being of our patients will remain our top priority.

"Our primary goal is to minimize any interruptions to the continuity of care and to ensure that our patients’ needs are met. Acadia Montana will continue to keep staff and resources in place to maintain quality of services, preserve operational integrity of the facility and comply with all regulations until all residents have been appropriately discharged and the transition has been completed.

"We are proud that over the past 13 years, Acadia Montana has had the privilege of providing care to children and adolescents and assisting their  families amidst challenging times by providing quality treatment programs, compassionate care and hope.

"Our work of caring for patients with sometimes difficult and complex mental health issues has taught us the importance of collaboration. We greatly appreciate the efforts of our many local and state partners who have helped us make a difference and transform countless lives."

The home, which accepted patients from several Western states and Native American tribes, was rocked by revelations in April that a 9-year-old patient was injected with chemicals to restrain her and was also frequently placed in locked seclusion. Oregon authorities pulled the girl from Acadia's care.

The 108-bed facility treats children from ages 5 to 18.

In an April report by The Montana Standard, "Kids in Crisis, Care in Question," employees said chemical restraint of children at the facility was commonplace.

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services recently completed a lengthy audit and inspection at the facility, and other such reviews were recently done by the Montana Board of Visitors and Alaska state officials. Results of those audits were not immediately known.

DPHHS Director Sheila Hogan said the agency "is working closely with Acadia Montana to minimize interruptions to services received by youth at this facility. In order to ensure a successful transition, we are actively working to inform, engage, and support our network of children’s mental health providers.”

At various times in its history, the facility was alternately scolded by regulators as a place where chemical restraint and locked seclusion happened much too frequently, and praised as an institution that had dramatically improved. 

Carter Anderson, who is currently in charge of DPHHS' Quality Assurance Division, which regulates Acadia, was formerly the institution's CEO.

DPPHS spokesperson Jon Ebelt said that the results of the agency's recent survey of Acadia would be posted online "at a later date," but added, "It was Acadia's decision to close." 

A telephone message was left with Craig Fitch, attorney for the Montana Board of Visitors.

It was also not immediately clear whether Acadia Montana would continue to have a presence of any kind in Butte. The institution, in addition to residential treatment, runs other outreach programs for troubled youth, and it is not known whether that will continue.

The Montana Standard's April report included the information that, based on reviews of public records and interviews with former employees of the facility, the use of chemical restraints on children has been going on for years.

In a Sept. 29, 2016 letter, a DPHHS inspector faulted Acadia for being unable "to maintain a safe environment, which is evidenced by the number of emergency safety interventions" including physical and chemical restraints, "that occur."

The DPHHS inspector noted that in August of that year alone there had been more than 500 incidents when children were medicated to manage behavior.

But by March 2017, the facility was being praised in various reports for dramatically reducing the number of seclusions and emergency medications.

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Reporter Mike Smith contributed to this story.

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