Bill would force changes at Western State Hospital

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- In a place where change can come slowly, Senator Mark Miloscia has been laser-focused on immediate fixes for the troubled mental hospital, Western State.

"If Western State Hospital doesn't address its serious management problems, more people will die," he said.

Federal agencies could pullĀ millions of dollars in funding on March 1st if the facility doesn't improve patient safety plans, management structure and basic hygiene.

"Most people aren't doing all the needed elements to have a robust quality management system, so they kind of spend all their time what I call faking it," Miloscia said.

SB 6541 got its first hearing in the Senate Reform and Accountability Committee Wednesday morning. The bill would require the hospital to measure progress and goals with some due by the end of the year.

"I think Western needs a complete look at what's actually happening there. 'We are understaffed, we are underpaid, we have a lot of issues there,'" said Senator Rosemary McAuliffe.

Western's managers agree the system needs change.

"Behind the answers to those questions have to be actual processes that we're doing efficiently and effectively," said Department of Social and Health Services assistant secretary Carla Reyes.

Miloscia believes without good managers and training systems in place, staffing levels are pointless.

"You'll still get bad results," he said.

Miloscia says he thinks his accountability mandate can get done on the cheap by existing staff. Governor Jay Inslee said last week that he is going to be pushing for more salaries for staff and for security here Western.

credit: KOMO News

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