DSHS continues work improving safety and quality of care at state’s psychiatric hospitals

Release Date: 
Feb 17 2017
DSHS Office of Communications
Kelly Stowe
(360) 902-7739

OLYMPIA- U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman today entered an order giving several directives to the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to come into compliance with the court. The order is being reviewed.

The agency continues to work toward compliance with Judge Pechman’s contempt order while meeting the quality care and safety standards that patients need and deserve. Much progress has been made in providing competency evaluations and restoration services to members of the lawsuit as the department strives to come into full compliance as quickly as possible.

“We join Judge Pechman, Governor Jay Inslee, members of the Legislature, law enforcement and, most importantly, the patients and their families, in our quest to provide quality mental health services in a timely manner,” said Pat Lashway, Acting Secretary of the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). “We are all in this together.”

Together with Carla Reyes, DSHS Assistant Secretary for the Behavioral Health Administration, and officials from Western and Eastern State hospitals, Lashway was called to appear before Judge Pechman to give an update on progress the agency has made in addressing issues at the state’s two psychiatric hospitals and reducing the time forensic patients spend in jail waiting for a bed. To date, DSHS has incurred almost $10 million in fines since Judge Pechman first held the agency in contempt in July 2016. The money from these fines is being used to create jail diversion programs which will assist in meeting service goals.

In unison with the department’s work to become compliant with the court’s contempt order related to competency services, the agency is also working to have Western State Hospital retain certification from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). DSHS entered into a Systems Improvement Agreement (SIA) with CMS in June 2016 to fix systemic operating problems and focus more on patient treatment and overall safety of the hospital.

Currently, there is not enough staff at Western State Hospital (WSH) to safely add more beds. To do so would not only put the quality of care of patients at the hospital at risk, it would also weaken the ability for the requirements in the SIA to be met, ensuring CMS to terminate funding.

“Although our campaign to hire staff at Western State Hospital continues to be  highly successful, we are still not at a staffing level where we can open more beds and ensure the highest quality of care for patients,” explained Reyes.


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.