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Health and Medicine
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."

Starting Friday, Mental Health 'Boarding' No Longer Allowed In Washington

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National Institute of Mental Health

The day after Christmas is the deadline for the state of Washington to end a practice known as psychiatric “boarding.”

This is when mentally ill patients are involuntarily held in regular hospital beds. The Washington Supreme Court gave the state 120-days to comply.

The Washington Department of Social and Health Services said it’s been able to fund 145 new beds with $15 million in emergency funding from the governor.

DSHS Deputy Assistant Secretary Victoria Roberts said while progress has been made, “We haven’t solved all the problems.”

Roberts said one potential issue is most of the psychiatric beds are in the Puget Sound region.

“And there likely will be someone who is detained east of the mountains in a small rural area that needs to be transferred to the west side of the state in order to receive appropriate care,” she said.

Emergency regulations will dictate how hospitals and mental health providers navigate this new legal terrain.