western state hospital

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

This January, Carolyn Guinotte took her son Alan to the emergency room because he was unable to go to the bathroom. Alan is 30 years old, autistic and mostly non-verbal. But when it was time for Alan to get out of the hospital, Guinotte and her husband said they couldn’t take him back. 

Courtesy of Dawn Akerman

In recent months, court commissioners on both sides of the Cascades have found the state of Washington in contempt, and even imposed fines, over access to state psychiatric care for people with severe developmental disabilities.

Tom Banse / NW News Network

Some psychiatric patients are spending not just hours in the emergency room, but days or a week. They're living there in the ER because there is nowhere else to send them. Pacific Northwest policymakers are now making it a priority to create more treatment capacity for people in mental health and addiction crises.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington's largest state-run psychiatric hospital has been cited and fined for failing to protect workers from assaults by patients. 

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is taking the first step toward a plan to help house and treat psychiatric patients who have been involved in the criminal justice system: a new, 500-bed state mental hospital.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

In the wake of three serious patient-on-staff assaults, more than 150 nurses at Washington's Western State Hospital have signed a "no-confidence" letter calling for the replacement of the psychiatric hospital's chief nursing officer Karen Pitman and her deputies. 

"We have lost all trust, faith, and confidence in the current Western State Hospital Nursing Administration to advocate for nursing," the letter read. 

The letter was delivered by email Friday to Dave Holt, Western State CEO and Cheryl Strange, Secretary of the Department of Social and Health Services.

Austin Jenkins / NW News Network

On the evening of September 30, Bernia Garner was working as a nurse on South Hall 7, a ward for non-criminal patients at Washington’s Western State Hospital.

Austin Jenkins / NW News Network

A Washington state senator who says he’s heard from “literally hundreds of parents” of adult children who are struggling with mental illness or addiction wants to allow families to petition for temporary guardianship.

Austin Jenkins / NW News Network

This story has been updated.

Despite a two year turnaround effort, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Monday that it will strip Washington’s Western State Hospital of federal certification for failing to comply with standards.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network






Washington state’s largest psychiatric hospital is no longer in immediate jeopardy of losing federal funding.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Federal inspectors have found serious safety violations at Western State Hospital that could increase the chances of patient suicides. The finding this week has the potential to further imperil $65 million in annual federal funding the state receives to operate the 857-bed psychiatric hospital near Tacoma.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

One night about a year ago, the lights in Brian's Tacoma apartment suddenly went out. He was in his bedroom. When he walked out to see what had happened, he said he found his adult daughter who lived with him had stuck a bread knife into an electrical outlet.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

For the last several years, Washington state lawmakers have been working on a response to a state Supreme Court order to fully fund schools. Now they’re signaling a shift to the next big challenge: mental health.

At a news conference Friday at Western State Hospital, Republican state Sen. Steve O’Ban framed Washington’s mental health crisis this way:

“I kind of think of this as, this is a bad analogy perhaps, but McCleary Two,” he said.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

In the living room of her Olympia home, Crystal opens up a large file box that contains her son’s life history.

“As a mom you keep those shot records and those test scores in their little file even if they’re in their 20s,” said Crystal, whose last name we’re not using to protect her son's identity.

But this plastic box has something else: a detailed record of her son’s battle with addiction and mental illness beginning when he was 12.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Efforts to turnaround Washington’s troubled Western State Hospital are taking longer than expected. The federal government this week granted yet another extension to give the state’s largest mental hospital more time to fix systemic problems.

Washington DSHS

After a national search, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has tapped an insider to run the state’s largest agency. Western State Hospital CEO Cheryl Strange will take over as secretary of the Department of Social and Health Services in September.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee wants to make sweeping changes to the state’s mental health system. The Democrat Wednesday proposed a six-year plan to downsize the state’s two mental hospitals.

Phil Thomas / asylumprojects.org - tinyurl.com/j28ogdb

Washington’s troubled Western State Hospital has been plagued by ineffective management, staff reductions and turnover. That’s according to a “root cause analysis” report released Thursday.

Phil Thomas / asylumprojects.org - tinyurl.com/j28ogdb

Former CEO of Washington’s Western State Hospital Ron Adler was publicly fired as head of the troubled state psychiatric hospital by Gov Jay Inslee earlier this year after the escape and recapture of two high-risk patients. But Adler continued working for the state.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington’s troubled Western State Hospital won’t lose nearly $50 million in federal funding -- for now. On Friday morning, Gov. Jay Inslee announced a 13-month turnaround agreement with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Phil Thomas / asylumprojects.org - tinyurl.com/j28ogdb

The state of Washington has struck a deal with the feds to keep Western State Hospital open and funded. The Department of Social and Health Services announced late Thursday that it will negotiate a Systems Improvement Agreement with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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Thomasp94 / asylumprojects.org

A staffing shortage at Western State Hospital has created a crisis situation. Federal inspectors this week determined that patients and staff face immediate risk for harm.