Three nurses at Western State Hospital were assaulted last week by two patients.
Lakewood police responded to the Nov. 25 incident. One patient attacked a staff member and two other staffers who tried to defuse the situation, police spokesman Chris Lawler said. A second patient joined the fray, leading to more injuries.
One staff member was taken to Madigan Army Medical Center with minor injuries, Lawler said. The other two were evaluated by emergency medical technicians for minor injuries.
The patients were not identified, in keeping with standard practice by Western State.
Police searched one of the patient’s rooms and found a billiard ball wrapped in a sock, Lawler said. The patient reportedly told hospital staff members he hoped to assault them and tie them up, but never carried out the threat.
Asked for comment on the incident, hospital spokesman Michael Savage replied with a statement from the state Department of Social and Health Services, which oversees the hospital in Lakewood:
“Three nurses were assaulted at Western State Hospital on November 25, 2014. Fortunately, all but one have returned to duty and the other plans to return to work shortly.
“This is an important reminder of how tough this job can be, how dedicated to service our employees are and the importance of implementing the DSHS Behavioral Health safety proposals.”
The proposals, which seek funding to improve staff safety, include increased training and setting up teams with specialized skills “to respond when a patient presents a safety risk to him or herself or others” at Western and Eastern State hospitals, according to the statement.
Savage added a statement from Jane Beyer, assistant secretary for DSHS:
“Our special thanks go out to these team members and their families,” Beyer said. “Our state hospital team members do critical work every day to support the recovery of people with very serious mental illness.”
Earlier this year, Western State established a 14-member response team to address staff safety and assaults by patients.
Hospital employees took part in multiple training sessions and received instruction – some in real-time simulations – on how to respond to violent incidents and help patients calm themselves.