CMS agreement supports Western State Hospitals journey to provide safer, higher-quality care

Release Date: 
Jun 02 2016
DSHS Office of Communications
Kathy Spears
(253) 756-2667

OLYMPIA—The state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have agreed to a 13-month agreement to allow Western State Hospital (WSH) the time and guidance to fix systemic operating problems and put more focus on patient treatment and overall safety.

Signing the Systems Improvement Agreement (SIA) rescinds today’s planned (June 3, 2016) termination of CMS’ Medicare Provider Agreement with WSH, but allows CMS to re-issue termination if it finds that the hospital isn’t progressing toward full compliance with the Medicare Conditions of Participation (CoPs), a requirement for federal funding. 

“This morning I met with Cheryl Strange, the hospital’s new CEO, and the hospital’s team of leaders, and they assured me they are committed to implementing this plan, to improving care for their patients, and to ensuring the safety of their staff and local communities,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “They recognize that the agreement is uncharted territory – but an unprecedented opportunity – to turn the hospital into a Center for Excellence.

“There will be hiccups along the way, I’m sure. That’s how we learn what is effective and what isn’t, but today’s agreement with CMS helps affirm that the hospital is moving in the right direction,” he said. 

“With the support of the Governor, we are entering a new phase of this long and challenging journey together,” said Carla Reyes, DSHS assistant secretary for the Behavioral Health Administration. “We are excited about the opportunity it presents to recreate a hospital that is better focused on patient treatment and recovery, providing people with mental illnesses the tools they need to return safely to their homes and communities.”

“Our hospital must be a safe environment for staff, for our patients and for local communities that have been strong supporters of the hospital’s work for so many years,” she said.

In the agreement, CMS noted that the “Washington State Legislature, and the Washington State Governor have committed to supporting sustainable systemic improvements that result in WSH delivering quality care in a safe setting that meets all Medicare CoPs.”

It also noted that DSHS has endeavored to improve the quality and safety of WSH by appointing a new Chief Executive Officer and seeking guidance, support and oversight of expert professionals, while satisfying all the Medicare CoPs.

“We have many dedicated and hard-working professionals at the hospital. We just don’t have a functional organizational model in place to help them be more successful. The independent review and guidance provided under an SIA will help us fix these gaps and attract additional high-quality staff,” Reyes said.

A copy of the SIA is available at this web page developed by DSHS, which also will include updates and additional information as it becomes available over the next several months.


DSHS does not discriminate and provides equal access to its programs and services for all persons without regard to race, color, gender, religion, creed, marital status, national origin, sexual orientation, age, veteran’s status or the presence of any physical, sensory or mental disability.