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Feb. 25, 2024

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Psychiatric hospital says it’s ready for re-inspection

Federal regulators had called for upgrades of patient safety

The Columbian
Published:

LAKEWOOD (AP) — Officials with Washington’s largest psychiatric hospital say they are on track to satisfy federal regulators who threatened to pull millions of dollars in federal funding over concerns about patient safety.

Inspectors from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services were expected to check the 800-bed Western State Hospital in Lakewood to ensure changes have been made to address the problems, The News Tribune reported. If the review of current conditions satisfies inspectors, the hospital will return to its work on long-term improvements.

The hospital failed to provide oversight ensuring “patients are protected from abuse and neglect and received safe and appropriate psychiatric, medical and nursing services,” federal officials said in a letter this month.

Western State Hospital CEO Ron Adler sent a letter Friday to the Medicare agency describing the agency’s willingness to accept the improvement proposal, which includes training staff in “de-escalation” techniques and canceling a planned expansion.

The facility receives $4.7 million from Medicaid and $11.2 million from Medicare annually, according to state officials. The hospital has been under threat of losing federal funds four times this year.

The federal agency sent 90-day termination notices to the hospital in January, March, September and November after finding that patients were at risk.

Infractions that were noted in a Nov. 5 inspection involved patient rights, quality assessment, medical staff, nursing services and infection control.

Western State Hospital has struggled with staffing as it sought to comply with a federal court order issued in April that requires the state to provide timely services to mentally ill people charged with crimes. A judge said the hospital made people wait weeks or months for an evaluation on their competency for trial or for treatment.

The hospital was starting to open new wards to handle the competency cases, but when federal inspectors found the hospital out of compliance, health services secretary Kevin Quigley said officials had ended the hospital expansion until they get things under control.

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