Washington’s largest psychiatric hospital in ‘critical safety situation’

Western State Hospital

SEATTLE — Washington state’s largest psychiatric hospital is under a “critical safety situation” after inspectors discovered problems with the sprawling facility’s fire response system.

To ensure that Western State Hospital patients are safe state officials have implemented a “fire watch” program that involves staff looking for “evidence of smoke and fire in all areas,” according to a memo sent to workers by Sean Murphy, the facility’s chief safety officer.

Officials with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and the state Department of Health were conducting an inspection this week at the 800-bed facility in Lakewood, Washington, when the problems were discovered.

The agency threatened to cut millions of federal funds after a series of safety violations were discovered last year. The state has until July to fix the problems.