Shodair Children's Hospital in Helena has resumed admissions and is implementing safety improvements after one of its patients was struck and killed by a vehicle earlier this month.
The mental health hospital voluntarily ceased admissions for one week beginning July 15, when a 15-year-old patient from Missoula was fatally struck by a pickup truck on Interstate 15. The hospital issued a statement saying the girl ran from the facility after tampering with a fire alarm, which caused the doors to unlock.
The girl’s death has been ruled accidental, according to Capt. Brent Colbert of the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff's Office.
Shodair CEO Craig Aasved said hospital leaders decided to move the fire alarms to nurse’s stations after visiting with Helena’s fire marshal last week.
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“We will still meet all the codes,” he said. “We’re just relocating them to where they are not so accessible to patients.”
Aasved said officials from the Helena Fire Department, the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services will be at the hospital Aug. 1 to inspect the changes, “and to always be looking at other options that might come out of this.”
Aasved said Shodair launched an internal investigation shortly after the fatal crash, and DPHHS officials were conducting their own investigation at the facility last week. He is also expecting an investigation by The Joint Commission, which provides Shodair’s accreditation.
"I don't ever want to forget the patient and her family and the driver and our staff, because it's been rough," he said. "I can speak for the staff here. It's been a tough go."