Western State Hospital is closing the ward from which two patients escaped early this month, according to a memo released Tuesday by the Department of Social and Health Services.
The patients, Anthony Garver and Mark Adams, had been kept in a less-secure ward at the Lakewood mental hospital because they were committed civilly after being found not competent to stand trial. They escaped April 5 through a window in their room. Adams was found the next day in Des Moines. It took three days before Garver was arrested near Spokane.
“DSHS leaders and Gov. Jay Inslee continue to be very involved in discussions on improving safety and security,” the memo states. “Department of Corrections consultants have also provided recommendations that may be incorporated in the near future.”
The windows throughout the ward, C4, were secured after Garver and Adams escaped, but it would be difficult to make the building more secure, the memo states. The state cannot add another secure entrance to the building, and long hallways leading to offices are a safety hazard. The building is also close to Steilacoom Boulevard.
DSHS will move the patients to ward E2 by May 5, after patients in two other wards are moved. E2 has a manned entryway that would make it more difficult for patients to escape.
Ward E2 once housed some patients found incompetent to stand trial, but its use shifted in recent years to forensic patients. It currently houses patients found not guilty by reason of insanity, who will be moved to make way for C4’s occupants.
“Major incidents, such as the escape of two patients on April 6 are always reviewed to determine what can be improved and prevent it from happening in the future,” DSHS spokeswoman Kathy Spears wrote in an email. “The ward move is the quality improvement process in action.”
Treatment will continue for the patients as normal, the memo states.