Officials at Washington state’s largest psychiatric hospital are trying to get control of the latest coronavirus outbreak after four workers and one patient tested positive.

To date, 38 employees at Western State Hospital have tested positive for COVID-19, while nine patients got the disease. One patient died.

The 800-bed Lakewood facility also recently had a bacteria outbreak in its water system, which meant no staff or patients could shower or wash their hands. The health department has since cleared that notification.

Last week, a hospital security guard became symptomatic and tested positive, CEO Dave Holt told staff in an email. It was the first employee to test positive since May 27.

On Friday, a patient on the criminal ward also tested positive. The patient is being held after pleading not guilty by reason of insanity, Holt said. He was the first patient to test positive since April 30.

“He was sent to St. Clare Hospital on Wednesday July 1 and returned to Western the same day,” Holt said. “Per protocol, he was tested seven days after returning to Western and the positive results were found on July 10. He was moved to the COVID-19 ward on C1.”


This week also saw a jump in cases. On Tuesday three staff members from two different wards tested positive.

The nursing department set up drive-through testing last weekend and plans to continue testing through this week so staff who worked on the wards can be tested, Holt said.

The Department of Social and Health Services, which oversees the hospital, has also seen outbreaks in several of its other 24/7 residential rehabilitation centers.

The largest outbreak is at the Fircrest School, which provides support to about 200 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Thirty-seven workers and 13 residents tested positive at that residential facility.

The Yakima Valley School, a certified nursing facility, had 12 positive workers and two positive residents.