Newly appointed Secretary, Cheryl Strange, sets tone for future of Western State Hospital

Release Date: 
Aug 01 2017
DSHS Office of Communications
Kelly Stowe

OLYMPIA- Earlier today, Governor Jay Inslee announced that he has appointed current Western State Hospital CEO, Cheryl Strange, as the Department of Social and Health Services Secretary.

In a message to staff after the Governor’s announcement, Strange made it clear that Western State Hospital’s success is still a main priority with her:

Over the course of the next few days, I will be working with others, including WSH and DSHS leadership to appoint the next WSH CEO. Please rest assured that this is job one for me. But, also know that as the DSHS Secretary, I will continue to share responsibility, along with each of you, to ensure that we do not lose sight of our common quest to Transform Western.

We have a busy year ahead of us. Our patients have serious psychiatric challenges as well as complex chronic and acute physical illnesses.  We must keep moving forward to improve many outdated and overly complex processes in order to provide our best care and build more support for recovery.  It is hard work to get back to the basics of hospital operations and quality patient care, but that is what we must continue to do.   

Over the next month, as I transition into my new role as your Secretary, I will be highly focused on ensuring that WSH has a new leader who embodies our core values of compassion, stewardship, no fear, and a genuine love for the work we do.  This leader must be laser focused in working with labor partners, staff, our consultants and WSH leadership to ensure our efforts result in improved safety, quality psychiatric and medical treatment, and the protection of federal funding.

It has been an honor and privilege to serve with you.  Please rest assured that as I move into this new role, I will continue the department’s efforts to support the transformation of WSH.  I will take with me tremendous respect and appreciation for the significant accomplishments made by Team Western over the past many months. And I will truly miss not seeing you and our patients on a daily basis.  You can bet I will be talking about the work that you do every day. 

I am excited to work with you in my new role, where I hope I can provide even more support to help with the tremendous challenges we must overcome at WSH.

Again and as always, thank you for your loyal service in supporting people with severe and persistent mental illness. You all are amazing. You all will be missed.”

Strange has been instrumental in working to transform Western State Hospital by improving operations with a particular emphasis on:

  • Active treatment and treatment planning

  • Patient care and rights

  • Safety and security for patients, staff and the community

  • Leadership and accountability

  • Recruitment, hiring, training and employee engagement

  • Maintaining buildings and grounds

The hospital is currently just over a month into a 60-day extension on its Systems Improvement Agreement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

CMS extended the current agreement for 60 days during which CMS will work with the Department to identify next steps for the hospital. The progress to date earned the hospital the opportunity for this extension during which the hospital will continue to be certified by CMS and maintain its eligibility for federal funding.

An announcement on a successor to Strange at the hospital will be made in the next week.





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.