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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 Supreme Court Puts Hospital Boarding Decision On Hold

Aidan Wakely-Mulroney

The state of Washington will not have to start discharging severely mentally ill patients starting this week. The Supreme Court Monday put a hold on a recent ruling that says it’s illegal for the state to “board” psychiatric patients in non-psychiatric hospital beds.

That ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed on behalf of several psychiatric patients who were involuntarily committed and then held in regular hospital beds. It was supposed to take effect this Wednesday.

But the state, along with mental health advocates, asked the Supreme Court for a 120-day stay. That would theoretically give time to open up 145 new psychiatric beds statewide.

Governor Jay Inslee has approved $30 million in emergency funding to do this. The Supreme Court has now said it will consider the motion for a stay on September 4. In the meantime, the court’s ruling will not go into effect.

State officials have said they want to avoid a situation where patients who pose a threat to themselves or others are released because of a lack of psychiatric beds.

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."