Officials: Lakewood’s Western State Hospital could lose federal funds

SEATTLE — Washington state’s largest psychiatric hospital could lose millions of federal dollars for failing to ensure the safety of a patient who was tied down and sedated when another patient attacked him with a shoe and fist, causing serious injuries.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services sent Western State Hospital a 90-day termination notice last week that said the Lakewood facility violated program rules that require it to protect its patients’ safety and rights.

The warning was the latest in a list of troubles facing the state’s mental health system. A federal judge issued a permanent injunction against the state’s two psychiatric hospitals in April for failing to provide timely competency services to mentally ill people charged with crimes. And the brother of a patient who died after choking on an orange in a hospital dayroom while staff walked around him is suing the workers.

Western State Hospital must submit a plan to address the violations by next week and have the deficiencies fixed by Dec. 2, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will end both Medicare and Medicaid funding, Stephanie Magill, spokeswoman for CMS, told The Associated Press.

“The health and safety of our beneficiaries is our highest priority,” Magill said.

The hospital receives $4.7 million from Medicaid and $11.2 million from Medicare annually, said Kathy Spears, spokeswoman for the Washington Department of Social and Health Services.

Victoria Roberts, deputy assistant for the state Behavioral Health &Service Integration Administration, said they are working on a plan to fix the problems and they intend to meet the deadlines so no funds will be lost.

Two patients, identified only as #1 and #2, argued often, according to the investigators’ Sept. 3 report. Patient #1 would “whisper to (#2)…you need to go back to your homeland” and they would erupt into “verbal altercations.”

They had an argument at 8 p.m. on Aug. 15, and patient #2 threw liquid at patient #1, who responded with a punch, the report said. When they kept trying to get at each other, hospital officials placed patient #1 in seclusion. They gave him drugs and put him in a five-point restraint, the report said.

At about 1:50 a.m., the other patient walked past staff and assaulted the man who was being restrained, “causing a nasal fracture, facial lacerations and facial trauma,” the report said. He was taken to the hospital and after being treated was brought back to the same ward as the patient who assaulted him, the report said.

The hospital didn’t move the attacker to the forensics unit until two days later, the report said.

Investigators who interviewed staff and reviewed records found numerous problems with the way the situation was handled.

The head nurse and medical director knew that the two patients had fought earlier on Aug. 15, but nothing in the attacker’s records show he was “monitored or supervised after the event,” the report said.

A staff member told investigators that when patient #2 went into the seclusion room, “I thought (#2) was going to kill (#1).” The attacker later told staff “he hit me so I have to hit him back,” the report said.

Based on these findings, federal officials said the hospital “no longer meets the requirements for participation as a provider of services in the Medicare program.”

Talk to us

More in Local News

Monroe High School with (inset) a Facebook video screenshot from Nov. 10, 2021, which showed a white student repeatedly using racial slurs in a confrontation with a Black student.
‘It makes me angry’: Black students in Monroe report persistent racism

“Please help stop this racism,” a first-grade student told the Monroe school board Monday. Other kids reported racist slurs.

Zachary Robbins
Marysville superintendent could start a month early

A June start means Zachary Robbins could weigh in on a $13.5 million budget shortfall and a parental consent policy for clubs.

Driver dies after rollover crash at Smokey Point

The deceased man, 25, reportedly sped off from police before crashing into a nearby utility pole. A woman, 19, was injured.

FILE - In this Oct. 24, 2020, file photo, a Washington state Department of Agriculture worker holds two of the dozens of Asian giant hornets vacuumed from a tree in Blaine, Wash. Authorities say they've found the first Asian giant hornet nest of 2021 in a rural area east of Blaine. State entomologists will now develop a plan to eradicate the nest. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Scientists will set 1,000 traps for murder hornets this year

Asian giant hornets, first detected in 2019, are are believed to be confined in Whatcom County.

Lynnwood City Council member George Hurst moves to postpone action on the vehicle license fees ordinance during the council's meeting Monday. (Screenshot/City of Lynnwood)
Lynnwood to keep collecting a car tab fee and utility tax, for now

City Council members will consider repealing them in October when they write a new city budget.

Epic Ford on the corner of 52nd Street and Evergreen Way in Everett is closed. The dealership has been in business for more than 50 years. (Janice Podsada / The Herald)
After 50 years, Everett’s Epic Ford dealership closes shop

It opened in 1971, when gas guzzling muscle cars like the Ford Mustang still ruled the road.

Lyon Torns enters the courtroom for his sentencing Wednesday afternoon in the Snohomish County Superior Courtroom in Everett, Washington on May 25, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Everett man gets 19 years in fatal Marysville shooting

Lyon “Nick” Torns sold fentanyl to Jason Castle, 42. In November 2020, Torns shot and killed him, then fled to Las Vegas.

Ian Saltzman
School leaders in Everett, Mukilteo districts receive raises

Superintendents Ian Saltzman in Everett and Alison Brynelson in Mukilteo secured contract extensions through 2025.

Brace for Memorial Day weekend traffic and long ferry lines

Leave at non-peak hours to avoid road congestion and ferry backups. The passes will be busy, too.

Most Read