Washington State Department of Social and Health Services Home page

WSH -- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What should I do if I or someone I know needs mental health services?

For All Other Mental Health Services:

 


What is Western State Hospital?

Western State Hospital (WSH) is one of two Washington State operated psychiatric hospitals.  WSH is the regional state psychiatric hospital for 20 Western Washington counties.   Hospital treatment teams create and provide individualized intensive inpatient treatment for individuals with severe mental illness. 

Patients are admitted to WSH as a result of having received an involuntary commitment order by the court, either through a civil commitment proceeding under RCW 71.05, or a criminal justice proceeding under RCW 10.77.  There are over 500 civilly committed patients and over 200 criminally committed patients that are receiving inpatient treatment at WSH. 

WSH is accredited by the Joint Commission and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  


What is the history of WSH?


Can patients or their family access advocacy services?

WSH Consumer Affairs Office (CAO) provides services to patients at WSH to help them resolve conflict and complaints.  CAO employees and peer specialists advocate for patients and serve as teachers, resource persons and bridges between patient and various agencies.  CAO does not provide legal services or counseling. 

The telephone number for the Consumer Affairs Office is:
253-761-7575 or 1-800-558-4737.


How can someone be referred for services at WSH?

Patients must come to WSH by court order. 

Civil Commitment (RCW 71.05) -- After a mental health professional  evaluate a person with a mental illness, they have the authority to detain him/her to an evaluation and treatment center for up to 72 hours.  If further detainment is needed, they will petition the court.  The court will hold a hearing where a decision is made whether or not to admit the person to the state hospital.   Patients do not come to WSH until after receiving a court order for treatment of their mental illness.

Criminal Commitment (RCW 10.77) – When a person has been arrested and suspected of crime, a judge can request a competency evaluation to determine if they are capable of assisting in their own defense.  The evaluation can be done either in jail or at WSH.  Sometimes a person needs treatment to become competent to stand trial.  When this occurs, the person is admitted to WSH for a longer period of time.  If they are found to be “non-restorable,” their criminal charges can be dropped and they can be civilly committed to the hospital.  Other times, people are found not-guilty-by-reason of insanity.  These patients can stay at WSH for up to the amount of time of what would have been a maximum sentence for their crime.
 
With various forms of treatment and medication, all patients at WSH are working towards recovery and eventually reintegrating into a productive life in their home community.


What if I disagree with a decision about receiving care are WSH?

You may call the Consumer Affairs Office: 253-761-7575 or 1-800-558-4737


How can I find out more about WSH?

Contact the hospital’s Public Information Officer  by calling 253-582-8900


What are patient rights?

During treatment at WSH, state and federal law protects patients to ensure they are given care, treatment and privileges that enhance their dignity, promote their welfare and protects their civil rights. 


How can I visit a patient in the hospital?

Family/friend visits are encouraged and play an important role in treatment.  Visiting hours  vary with each program.  Please contact the patient’s Social Worker to arrange a visit and to learn of any restrictions you may be faced with.

Remember that patients have the right to privacy under the law.  They may choose not to have someone as a visitor, in which case you would not be allowed to visit.  Under the law, if a patient does not want you to know they have been admitted to the hospital, you will be unable to visit or find out any information about them.  If you have information that you feel is important for the treatment team to know, you may share that information with the Consumer Affairs Office and it will be passed along to the treatment team.  Any time a visit is detrimental to the patient, staff or the visitor, the treatment team has the authority to deny visitation.


Where is WSH located?

The hospital is located ten miles south of Tacoma, Washington and one-half mile from the town of Steilacoom.
 
The street address is :
9601 Steilacoom Blvd SW
Lakewood, Washington 98498-7213


Can I take a tour of the Hosptial?

Please contact the Public Information Office: at 582-8900 to see if your organization qualifies.


What do I do if I have a geneology request?

Please contact the Medical Records Department at: 582-8900.