Author

Katheryn Houghton

Katheryn Houghton

Katheryn Houghton, Montana Correspondent, is covering all things health care across the state for KHN. That includes health policy and politics, access to treatment and the business of health care. She owes her health reporting start to years spent in daily newsrooms, including those of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and the Daily Inter Lake. She’s been an Association of Health Care Journalists fellow and a Solutions Journalism Network grantee. She is a graduate of the University of Montana.

When mental illness leads to dropped charges, patients often go without stabilizing care

By: - September 24, 2022

For seven years, Timothy Jay Fowler rotated between jail, forced psychiatric hospitalization, and freedom. In 2014, the Great Falls, Montana, man was charged with assaulting two detention officers while he was in jail, accused of theft. A mental health evaluation concluded that Fowler, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, was unfit to stand trial, according […]

Montana hospitals cut jobs, services as rising costs strain budgets

By: - September 6, 2022

Bozeman Health had a problem, one that officials at the health system with hospitals and clinics in southwestern Montana said had been building for months. It had made it through the COVID-19 pandemic’s most difficult trials but lost employees and paid a premium for traveling workers to fill the void. Inflation had also driven up […]

The dust next door: Butte concerned about dust from mine

By: - June 11, 2022

BUTTE, Mont. — Steve McGrath stood in an empty lot a block from his home watching for dust. In this southwestern Montana city nicknamed “The Richest Hill on Earth,” more than a century of mining left polluted soil and water that has taken decades to clean. But at that moment, looking across the road toward […]

Montana hires controversial Medicaid director

By: and - June 2, 2022

Montana, one of only about a dozen states with a fully government-run Medicaid program, has hired a new Medicaid director who oversaw managed-care programs in Iowa and Kansas and championed the idea of having outside companies do the work. Mike Randol took over May 31 as head of Montana’s Medicaid program, which serves 280,000 people […]

Abortion politics leading to power struggles in Montana and beyond over family planning

By: - May 7, 2022

In a busy downtown Bozeman coffee shop, a drawing of a ski lift with intrauterine devices for chairs draws the eyes of sleepy customers getting their morning underway with a caffeine jolt. The flyer touts the services of Bridgercare, a nonprofit reproductive health clinic a few miles up the road. The clinic offers wellness exams, […]

A year in, Montana’s rolled-back public health powers leave some in limbo

By: - April 18, 2022

A year after a new Montana law stripped local health boards of their rulemaking authority, confusion and power struggles are creating a patchwork oversight system that may change how public health is administered long after the pandemic is over. The law, which took effect last April amid criticism of mask mandates and other COVID restrictions […]

Biden administration attempts to appeal to rural voters by boosting rural healthcare

By: - April 17, 2022

As the midterm election season ramps up, the Biden administration wants rural Americans to know it’ll be spending a lot of money to improve health care in rural areas. It has tasked Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack with delivering the message that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed long-standing problems with health care infrastructure in remote parts of […]

Pandemic exacerbates the ‘paramedic paradox’ in rural America

By: - April 9, 2022

Even after she’s clocked out, Sarah Lewin keeps a Ford Explorer outfitted with medical gear parked outside her house. As one of just four paramedics covering five counties across vast, sprawling eastern Montana, she knows a call that someone had a heart attack, was in a serious car crash, or needs life support and is […]

Long waits for Montana State Hospital leave psychiatric patients in jail

By: - March 17, 2022

A woman experiencing delusions sat in Montana’s Cascade County jail for 125 days while waiting for a bed at the state psychiatric hospital. A man with schizophrenia spent 100 days last year in the Flathead County jail on the hospital’s waitlist, at times refusing food and water. A man complaining of voices in his head […]

Dangerous levels of lead found in about half of Montana schools

By: - March 5, 2022

About half of Montana schools that had tested their water by mid-February under a new state rule had high levels of lead, according to state data. But the full picture isn’t clear because fewer than half of the state’s school buildings had provided water samples six weeks after the deadline. For many schools with high […]

COVID aid to protect Montana’s prisons, jails sits unused

By: - February 25, 2022

Last summer, Montana created a list of more than a dozen upgrades for its state prison facilities to protect inmates and staffers from COVID-19 infections, all of which would be paid for with nearly $2.5 million in federal COVID relief money. But the money, part of $700 million in aid to states to detect and […]

States were sharing COVID test kits. Then omicron hit.

By: - February 2, 2022

In a few short months, states have gone from donating surplus rapid COVID-19 tests to states with shortages to hoarding them as demand driven by the spike in cases strains supplies. Last January, North Dakota had amassed 2.7 million Abbott Laboratories BinaxNOW rapid COVID tests from the federal government — roughly 3½ tests for each […]