Western State Hospital | KUOW News and Information

Western State Hospital

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.

The main entrance of Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Wash.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Washington's largest psychiatric hospital has operated without national accreditation since June. It became clear Monday, though, that Western State Hospital did not notify staff, job applicants or the public.


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.

Kim Malcolm speaks with AP reporter Martha Belisle about the problems at Washington state's largest psychiatric hospital and why Governor Jay Inslee fired the chief of Western State Hospital.

Governor Jay Inslee.
Flickr Photo/GovInslee (CC-BY-NC-ND)

The head of Washington's largest psychiatric hospital was fired Tuesday. Governor Jay Inslee has announced that CEO Ron Adler will no longer lead Western State Hospital.

Inslee has already named a new CEO: Cheryl Strange, who previously managed the state public mental health system.

The main entrance of Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Wash.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Violence is a “constant disruption” at the state’s two main psychiatric hospitals, according to a new report jointly commissioned by The Department of Social and Health Services and the SEIU Healthcare 1199NW union that represents much of the front-line staff at the hospitals. 

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

The Tea Party has become a fixture in American politics. But the Sanka Party? Not so much. Other than an interest in hot beverages, the two activist groups have little in common. The Sanka Party got started last summer near Tacoma, Wash., in the unlikeliest of places: inside the walls of the state’s largest psychiatric institution.

Harborview Hospital, Seattle, 2002
Flickr Photo/Seattle Municipal Archives (CC BY 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1Ky8e6j

King County is facing a major problem. It doesn’t have enough beds for mentally ill people going through the court system. The county has nowhere to send them, and some are being released without treatment.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Editors' Note: This story contains graphic descriptions of suicide. If you or someone you know might be suicidal, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 800.273.8255 (800.273.TALK).

Western State Hospital in Lakewood is the largest psychiatric institution in the Pacific Northwest. Its mission statement says the hospital:

Megan Templeton sitting outside
Suzanne Kuhns

Editors' Note: This story contains graphic descriptions of suicide. If you or someone you know might be suicidal, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 800.273.8255 (800.273.TALK).

In the past decade, a dozen Western State Hospital patients have killed themselves. More than a hundred others have tried.  Megan Templeton was the most recent. In April, she hanged herself in her hospital room. She had turned 20 the day before.