As the CEO of Western State Hospital, I feel compelled to share the incredible journey of Western State Hospital’s restoration and transformation.
My views differ greatly from that of staff psychiatrist Dr. Joseph Wainer, whose opinions were published in The News Tribune last week, and I think it’s important to share my perspective.
I am so proud of our hospital staff. Every day, Western staff show compassion and tremendous skill in treating individuals with severe mental illness. The majority of our staff is focused on continually improving the care we provide and ensuring that the hospital is both safe and of great value.
Today, we have more than 2,300 dedicated staff who work at Western State and bring this commitment to their workplace every day.
Over the past 11 months, I, along with the hospital’s leadership team, have collectively conducted several hundred hospital rounds, talking at length with floor staff on all three shifts, listening to patients, examining patient care plans and conducting facility inspections to increase our security and safety.
Managers regularly participate in multidisciplinary treatment teams involving patients, social workers, psychologists, rehabilitation staff, nursing aides and psychiatrists, and I am proud to say that care has absolutely improved.
From my vantage point, I see a management team that is attentive, engaged and responsive to patient needs and staff concerns. I see a workforce that is focused on the future and the improvements we’re making right now, not dwelling with anger and frustration over past wrongs.
I see a staff that is not fearful to come forward with ideas and suggestions. I see a staff thankful for opportunities to provide input into hospital operations, and I see leaders eager to turn those ideas into lasting improvements.
I can tell you that we have worked day and night to create an environment of trust and safety for our patients, and the families that rely on us to provide quality care for their loved ones.
I have received many letters from family members thanking us for the critical services we have delivered to their son, daughter, brother, sister, husband, wife. I have also received hundreds of emails from staff letting me know how proud they are to be a part of our hospital.
WSH has come a long way in its restoration, transformation and recovery. While we still have much to accomplish, we are well on our way and very proud of what we have done. We collectively look forward to the hard work that lies ahead.
Cheryl Strange is a veteran mental health administrator who was named chief executive at Western State Hospital in April 2016 by Gov. Jay Inslee.