Chief medical officer to leave Western State Hospital

Release Date: 
Dec 29 2017
DSHS Office of Communications
Norah West
norah.west@dshs.wa.gov
(360) 902-7833

LAKEWOOD, WA— After two years in the position, Dr. James Polo’s last day as Western State Hospital’s chief medical officer is Sunday, Dec. 31. Polo has accepted a position with Cambia Health Solutions and will serve as its behavioral health medical director for Regence Blue Shield serving Washington, Oregon, Utah and Idaho.

“Dr. Polo has been instrumental in transforming Western State Hospital this past year,” said Dr. Marylouise Jones, acting chief executive officer of the largest state-operated mental hospital. “He helped to build our leadership team, supporting increased accountability and contributing to the many, many changes that have assisted the hospital in supporting its mission to provide high-quality care that ensures the safety of patients and staff.”

“I’m very grateful for Dr. Polo’s service to patients and staff at Western,” said Cheryl Strange, secretary of the Department of Social and Health Services and immediate past CEO of the hospital. “While we will miss him and all the skills he brought to state service, he is very well-suited for his new role and I wish him all the best in his new endeavors.”

Dr. Katherine Raymer, a psychiatrist with an extensive background in hospital leadership who has worked at Western State Hospital since June 2017, will assume Polo’s duties on Jan. 1, 2018. Additionally, Dr. Bill Hamilton will serve as interim deputy chief medical officer beginning Jan. 3, 2018. Hamilton is a medical doctor who comes to Western State from Oregon, where he helped transition primary care physicians between two major medical institutions. 

Recruitment for permanent staff in both positions is underway.

Western State Hospital is an inpatient psychiatric hospital that serves roughly 800 patients at any given time. With more than 1,800 employees, Western State is one of the largest psychiatric hospitals west of the Mississippi River. 

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