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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington Seeks Emergency Stay On Psychiatric Boarding Ruling

Taber Andrew Bain

The Washington Supreme Court recently ruled it’s illegal for the state to “board” mental health patients in emergency rooms and regular hospital beds.

The state of Washington said late Friday it can open 145 new psychiatric beds, but it needs some additional time. The attorney general has now asked the Supreme Court to “stay” its ruling for 120 days.

The Washington Department of Social and Health Services’ Jane Beyer said the delay is needed to avoid the release of unstable patients when the ruling takes effect next week.

“Our fear is that as of August 27, there would be petitions to the court to release individuals who we have found are a danger to themselves or others,” she said.

Governor Jay Inslee Friday approved $30 million in emergency funding to open up dozens of new psychiatric beds in the coming weeks. Currently 200 patients are being involuntary held in non-psychiatric beds in Washington.

The request for the Supreme Court to delay its ruling has the support of many groups including the Washington State Hospital Association and Disability Rights Washington.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."