Federal regulators are mulling over millions of dollars of cuts to Washington’s largest psychiatric hospital, even as staff warn they’re stretched too thin and episodes of inter-patient violence make the headlines.
This week, doctors at Western State Hospital, an 800-patient facility in the city of Lakewood, are reeling from an attack in which a patient suffered a broken jaw. Shortly after authorities sent the victim to the hospital for injuries he sustained “for no reason,” another patient attacked someone with his fists and shoe. These instances follow an investigation into complaints of ill-timed mental health services to people charged with crimes.
The state’s Department of Social and Health Services told the federal government it would implement a series of changes by next month. Those improvements include requirements that nurses assess patients after violent outburst, and the documentation of attacks that will allow workers coming later in the day to protect sedated patients. The federal government will review the plan. If Western State Hospital doesn’t change course, the facility could lose nearly $16 million of annual funding.