Shocking Violations that Led Feds to Strip Funding from Western State Mental Hospital
The state's biggest mental health hospital located in Lakewood, WA made national news when Federal officials said they are going to remove some $53 million in funds, due to shocking violations.
According to multiple sources, many of the allegations are now coming public, and they're alarming.
According to KOMO-TV news, they included:
- A patient who received a new feeding tube was not monitored for wound cleaning, pain medications or vital signs.
- Another who was supposed to be treated for eye, head and toe wounds was not given any of the care prescribed by their doctor.
- A patient who suffered an asthma attack was supposed to be checked every half-hour to monitor oxygen levels, but only checked a couple of times.
- The facility also is a fire hazard, Federal inspectors say firewalls have not been maintained, some latches don't work properly, and many sprinklers do not work.
- They also said staff failed to remove dozens of items that patients could use to strangle themselves or others.
- Staff also failed, on a number of occasions, to remove patients from restraints following disruptive behavior. Several patients were left in such a state for over four hours, despite having been found to have calmed down after only 2 hours.
The hospital had been cited previously in 2015 and 2017. Federal inspectors said nurses did not complete physician ordered work, and in 10 of 22 cases reviewed, did not maintain any of the doctor ordered regimens.
Also, off site medical appointments were often missed. In April alone, 31 patient visits to eye doctors and dentists were cancelled because there were no escorts to take the patients to their appointments. There were also numerous clerical and procedural documentation issues as well.
Yet despite the pulling of Federal funds (which some say is the 'death sentence' for a medical or mental facility), hospital directors and Gov. Jay Inslee claim the facility is a better one that it was in June 2016, when reforms were supposed to be taking place. A number of legislators on both sides of the aisle say providing mental health funding, including that for Western State, has been difficult because they've had to steer enormous amounts of money towards education due to the controversial McCleary Decision.
The facility is currently without a permanent CEO since 2016, when the former leader was fired after two patients escaped from the facility. One of them had been charged with murder and was undergoing psychiatric evaluations. Their escape set off a multi-county manhunt that had police scrambling all over the Seattle-Tacoma area. One of the suspects made his way across the state to Spokane, where he was apprehended.
The hospital can reapply for funding, but not until they show substantial improvements.