Report: Court orders new Western State Hospital CEO to jail if patient is not admitted

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Western State Hospital

SEATTLE — A Pierce County court has ordered the new CEO of Western State Hospital to report to jail June 15 if she does not admit a patient who was ordered to be admitted to the psychiatric hospital on April 20, the Seattle Times reported Friday.

According to the newspaper, Pierce County Superior Court Commission Craig Adams told CEO Cheryl Strange on Friday to admit the patient — or report to jail on June 15.

The patient in question was ordered by a civil court on April 20 to be detained in the psychiatric hospital for 14 days, the Times said, citing Adams. The patient was again ordered detained in early May for another 90 days, but was never admitted to Western State Hospital. Instead, the patient has been held at a general hospital because Western State said it didn’t have any space available, the Times said.

Adams said state law doesn’t allow a patient to be boarded in a hospital for more than one 30-day period, according to the Times.

Strange told the newspaper she doesn’t intend to admit the patient, because it would mean skipping over other patients on a wait-list who are more sick.

Strange issued the following statement late Friday afternoon:

“As the CEO of this hospital I can, by policy, override the placement on the waitlist of any patient. I take this responsibility very seriously.

“Based on the information I have available to me, I do not believe that this stable patient, currently in the care of a local hospital, rises to the level for me to exercise that authority.

“This isn’t about the number of beds. This is about having enough medical staff to treat the patient. A hospital administrator must assume that when a patient is admitted, there is the capacity to provide an appropriate level of care and treatment.

“Today’s ruling places the hospital in a catch-22: We are held in contempt because we don’t have the staff needed to provide an appropriate level of care, and we have patients who have completed treatment and are waiting to get out of the hospital but there is a lack of support services and stable places for them to live in the community.

“Safety and quality care are our priorities.”