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Legislative panel recommends changes to mental health care

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Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Wash.

SEATTLE (AP) _ A bipartisan legislative committee has sent a list of recommendations to the governor for improving Washington state’s struggling mental health care system.

The eight-member Select Committee on Quality in State Hospitals told Gov. Jay Inslee that the state needs to do more to ensure patients get the help they need.

The group also said their primary force was to improve the situation at the beleaguered Western State Hospital – the state’s largest psychiatric facility.

Republican Sen. Randi Becker says the state has increased funding over the past few years, but the hospital continues to fail inspections. Staffing levels have suffered and patient safety has been compromised.

The panel is urging Inslee to increase the use of inpatient psychiatric care in community settings and explore diversion options.