State Supreme Court asked to delay effect of decision on mental health patients
OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee has approved the spending of $30 million to purchase mental health treatment services for some of the 200 patients involuntarily detained outside of state treatment facilities due to overcrowding, the Department of Social and Health Services said Friday.
The practice of placing psychiatric patients in non-mental health treatment facilities, such as community hospital emergency rooms, was struck down by the state Supreme Court on Aug. 7.
“We are working as quickly as we can to find beds and resources for impacted patients. These additional beds are an essential interim step as we work on a long-term solution,” Inslee said.
Meanwhile, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a motion requesting the court to delay the effect of its decision for 120 days. The Supreme Court mandate gave DSHS until Aug. 27 to move the patients into psychiatric beds.
“My office wants to ensure the state is able to implement the court’s decision in a way that protects vulnerable individuals, public safety and healthcare providers,” Ferguson said. “No one would benefit from the release of people in mental health crisis without treatment. We hope the court will see the broad consensus in support of this motion and grant it.”
“I appreciate that so many parties have come together to agree on this plan,” Inslee said. “We are not challenging the Supreme Court ruling. We all want to implement the decision but we need to make sure patients receive the treatment they need and that the community is protected.”
DSHS said 50 additional beds will be available within 20 days and 95 additional beds will be available within the next 120 days.
Ferguson said ending psychiatric boarding on Aug. 27 could lead to serious problems for people in mental crisis, counties, hospitals and the general public. Without sufficient certified-treatment facilities available, many people who present a threat to themselves or others will be released without treatment, he added.