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Lawmaker fed up with violence at Western State Hospital

A sign for Western State Hospital is shown in Lakewood, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Washington state Sen. Steve O’Ban has had enough, after yet another violent incident at Lakewood’s Western State Hospital.

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The patients in this most recent incident were both found during a routine check in the room they shared. It remains unclear what exactly happened, but for O’Ban, it emphasized why reform is a necessity at the oft-troubled psychiatric hospital.

“This kind of tragedy and the ongoing danger to staff underscores the need for my bill,” Sen. O’Ban said in a news release.

O’Ban’s proposal would require state clinics like Western to go through the same licensing and inspection processes as private psychiatric facilities.

“I think we owe it to the patients there to provide necessary oversight,” he stated.

Western State — Washington’s largest psychiatric hospital — has had a troubled history with patient care. It lost its certification in 2018, along with millions of dollars in federal funding. The journey toward re-certification has been slow, with the hospital describing it as a “multi-year process.”

Federal certification years off for Western State Hospital

Meanwhile, the hospital has continued to struggle with violent attacks on staff and patients alike.

“In my view, one injury to staff is one too many, or patient to patient injury, that’s one too many,” Western CEO David Holt said in late 2019.

O’Ban’s measure is currently stuck in committee during a short legislative session to start the year.

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