The court commissioner who previously ordered Western State Hospital CEO Cheryl Strange to jail has imposed a sweeping set of improvement guidelines on the psychiatric facility.
OLYMPIA — A court commissioner Friday ordered state mental-health officials to get patients moving more quickly in and out of Western State Hospital.
Pierce County Court Commissioner Craig Adams previously ordered Western State Hospital’s CEO to jail if the facility failed to admit a patient suffering from dementia. The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), which oversees the hospital, appealed that order, and a judge put a stay on it.
But as the hospital continues dealing with a shortage of beds and staff, CEO Cheryl Strange is still refusing to admit the man.
Now, Adams has laid out a set of requirements to deal with the backlog of both patients waiting to get in and waiting to be discharged.
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And Adams in his order set a goal: Within six months, the state should not be housing psychiatric patients in community facilities for more than 30 days if they are supposed to be at Western State.
Among other things, the order requires an independent monitor known as a “special master” to track progress at Western State.
In an email, DSHS spokeswoman Kathleen Spears wrote that the agency “will review the order with our attorneys general before responding.”
The approximately 800-bed facility currently has long lists of patients both waiting to be admitted and discharged.
The order is the latest attempt by Adams to prod mental-health officials to improve the treatment of psychiatric patients.
Adams ordered Strange to jail over failure to admit the dementia patient at a June contempt hearing.
That patient is now being held in a general hospital under what’s known as a “single-bed certification.”
Adams helped spark a court case that in 2014 briefly made the practice unlawful. The state has since brought it back under some circumstances.
But Adams in his contempt ruling said state law doesn’t allow a patient to be boarded in a hospital for more than one 30-day stretch.