Western State Hospital receives federal survey results

Release Date: 
Jun 24 2018
DSHS Office of Communications
Kelly Stowe

While hospital made several significant improvements, it was not enough to maintain certification


OLYMPIA- The Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services (CMS) today notified the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) that although significant improvements at Western State Hospital have been made, it was not enough to pass a recent survey to retain certification for federal funding.

Last month, 22 surveyors representing CMS arrived at the hospital to inspect wards, treatment plans and to interview staff to ensure that 26 conditions of participation (COP) were being met. This is a result of a Systems Improvement Agreement (SIA) between DSHS and the federal government that began in June 2016.

In this recent and final survey, although CMS noted that vast improvements had been made since June 2016, the hospital was still falling short on the requirements to retain $53 million in federal funding.

In its letter dated June 25, 2018 CMS wrote, “During the term of the Second SIA and its predecessor, Western made significant strides toward correcting its areas of non-compliance. After an extensive review of the survey team’s findings, however, CMS has determined that Western’s progress did not constitute substantial compliance with the Medicare conditions of participations.”

Over the past two years, Governor Inslee, the legislature and other parts of DSHS have dedicated additional funding to boost recruitment and retention of hospital staff, address significant maintenance, repair and upgrade needs of the 100+ year old buildings, and improve quality of care. At the same time, Inslee and state leaders have started the process of planning for a five-year transition to a community-based system that would result in the hospital becoming a forensic-only facility.

“These findings help affirm that our plan is the right thing to do, and we are as committed as ever to implementing the reforms and systemic transformations that we know are necessary. We need to provide our patients care in community-based facilities where they can be closer to friends and family,” Inslee said.

“Other states have struggled similarly with maintaining large mental hospitals because it’s a 100-year-old model of care that doesn’t reflect our modern-day standards. I’ll be working closely with legislators and community partners in the coming months to make sure we’re doing everything necessary to get this job done.”   

Inslee announced his five-year plan to the state’s mental health system on the steps of Western State Hospital on May 11, 2018. This transition, originally proposed in the governor’s 2017-19 budget would have forensic and hard-to-place civil commitment patients served at the both state psychiatric facilities, Western and Eastern state hospitals, while treatment for others with mental illness would occur in community settings. The CMS survey findings support the governor’s vision moving forward to help people with mental illness get the right care at the right time at the right place.

“The hospital will continue providing care to patients and remains steadfast in its dedication to providing a safe and compliant hospital to serve people with mental illness,” said Cheryl Strange, Secretary of DSHS. “I’m grateful for the investments that the legislature has made. My job is to ensure that those investments result in continued improvements for the patients at Western State Hospital.”

Strange added, “Today, our hospital leadership team and others in the department are focused on reviewing the report from CMS and identifying the remaining areas of concern.  We must continue to make improvements regardless of the status of certification with CMS.”

Starting July 9, costs for care of newly admitted patients will be covered by state funding. Federal funding makes up less than 20 percent of the hospital’s overall annual funding.

Now, leaders from DSHS will meet with the governor’s office to determine next steps in transforming mental health in our state.

More information about the Systems Improvement Agreement and the letter from CMS can be found on the DSHS website.





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