Politics & Government

Western State drops out of accreditation program to focus on working with federal regulators

A sign near the main entrance of Western State Hospital in Lakewood. The state’s largest psychiatric hospital has withdrawn from a national accreditation program.
A sign near the main entrance of Western State Hospital in Lakewood. The state’s largest psychiatric hospital has withdrawn from a national accreditation program. AP file, 2015

The state’s largest psychiatric hospital quietly withdrew from a national accreditation program three months ago.

Western State Hospital voluntarily withdrew from accreditation by The Joint Commission, a nonprofit organization, on May 24, according to a Joint Commission spokeswoman.

The state Department of Social and Health Services, which oversees the Lakewood facility, informed Gov. Jay Inslee’s office about the decision at the time, according to Inslee spokeswoman Tara Lee.

The development was first reported Monday by KOMO News.

DSHS told Inslee’s office that the move was geared toward focusing the hospital on its work with federal regulators to clear up long-running issues, Lee said.

DSHS assured the governor’s office that the withdrawal would not affect the safety of patients or quality of care, she said.

Bedeviled by staff shortages, a lack of bed space and security problems, Western State in June entered into an agreement with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to make improvements and secure its federal certification.

The facility has been in jeopardy of losing that certification and tens of millions of dollars in annual federal funding.

Western State and federal officials are working through that 13-month plan and CMS agreed it was better to focus on that plan rather than accreditation, according to a statement from DSHS.

Once the hospital meets its federal certification “we will once again explore accreditation options,” Carla Reyes, assistant secretary for the DSHS Behavioral Health Administration, said in a statement.

Barbara Shelman, vice chair of Western State’s local union chapter of SEIU 1199 NW, said she learned only Monday of the withdrawal from accreditation.

Monday’s developments came after DSHS announced on Friday that a judge had stopped a court commissioner’s order requiring a separate independent monitor for Western State.

Pierce County Court Commissioner Craig Adams had ordered the monitor in order to get patients moving more quickly through the hospital, which has wait times for patients being both admitted and discharged from the facility.

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