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Psychiatric hospital staff say they face retaliation at Western State

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Western State Hospital

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington state’s largest psychiatric hospital could lose millions of federal dollars because a staffing shortage has made it difficult to run a safe facility, yet two psychiatrists who criticized hospital management were told to work from home this week.

Hospital staff say the doctors at Western State Hospital were placed on home assignment during a period when federal inspectors were expected to visit.

State officials have said staffing shortages are the reason they can’t comply with a judge’s order for timely competency services and for failed federal inspections.

But Dr. Joseph Wainer, a hospital psychiatrist, says the two doctors who were told to work offsite had raised concerns about the hospital’s focus on satisfying the federal inspectors instead of quality of care.

The assistant secretary for the state agency that oversees the hospital says they would never send staff home to keep them from inspectors.