Bill to improve oversight at Western State Hospital passes House
A bipartisan bill unanimously passed the House Thursday that would improve oversight of Western and Eastern state hospitals. The bill was cosponsored by Rep. Jay Rodne, R-Snoqualmie.
House Bill 2453 would establish a task force to make recommendations relating to improving staffing and workforce development, and overall quality of care for patients. The legislation also would create the Governor’s Behavioral Health Innovation Fund for monies specifically dedicated to improving state-hospital operations, staff and patient safety, and patient outcomes.
“This bill is a good first step in addressing a number of issues and lack of staffing at our state psychiatric hospitals,” said Rodne. “Caring for the mentally ill must remain a priority in our state. The magnitude of safety risks and staff losses noted at both hospitals is unacceptable.”
Western State Hospital currently holds 800 beds and serves Washington’s western counties, while Eastern State Hospital serves eastern counties and provides 287 beds. As late as last month, Western State Hospital was nearly at full capacity at 98.2 percent. Eastern State Hospital was at 79 percent capacity.
“We’ve recently made important strides in improving care and services for the mentally ill. With the passage of Joel’s Law last session, additional funding provided in the 2015-17 operating budget for inpatient safety, and now with the passage of House Bill 2453, Washington state is taking a significant stand for the mentally ill throughout our state,” said Rodne.
Joel’s Law, also co-sponsored by Rodne, was signed into law last May. It allows family members of individuals with mental illness who pose a threat to themselves or others to petition the courts for involuntary commitment.
House Bill 2453 now advances to the Senate for further consideration. The 2016 session is scheduled to adjourn March 10.
###Washington State House Republican Communications