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Psychiatric hospital patient charged with assaulting woman

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HELENA – A patient at Montana’s state psychiatric hospital is charged with aggravated assault after authorities say he repeatedly kicked a fellow patient in the head in an attack that left her with severe injuries and led federal regulators to end the hospital’s reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid.

The male patient is also charged with tampering with evidence for allegedly trying to wipe blood from his shoes after the March 22 assault at the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs, court records said. The charges were filed on March 24.

The court entered not guilty pleas on the defendant’s behalf during a hearing on April 20, Anaconda-Deer Lodge County court officials said Friday.

The victim suffered from multiple brain bleeds and facial injuries that will require reconstructive surgery, court records said. Photographs show she was bleeding from the eyes and at least one ear. She was flown to a Missoula hospital for treatment.

The attack, which was captured on surveillance video, happened after the victim reported to staff that the defendant was holding hands with another patient, investigators learned.

At the time of the assault, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services had already determined patients at the state hospital were under “immediate jeopardy” due to repeated failures to meet health and safety standards that resulted in patient deaths and that the hospital had failed to correct the shortfalls.

CMS then announced it would end Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements for new patients beginning April 12. Funding for patients that were already there would continue for another 30 days. The hospital administrator, Kyle Fouts, is leaving his post.

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