When someone you care about is admitted to a hospital, it’s natural to assume they’ll be cared for — but sadly, that isn’t always the case. And at Western State Hospital, the largest psychiatric facility in Washington state, both patients and employees are suffering inside the cruel, state-run institution. While the left-wing calls for more government involvement in medicine, the conditions at Western State are more than enough to give even the most ardent supporter of socialized medicine pause.
Hundreds of patients live under conditions that easily fail U.S. health and safety standards at the 800-bed facility,while nurses and psychiatrists are overworked and say the entire hospital is under-staffed. Employees say they end up getting punished for speaking out, which no doubt makes change a hard thing to accomplish.
Lisa Bowser, daughter of a former Western State patient, told AP in an exclusive report, “They don’t have enough staff to protect patients, or provide them with the bare minimum of care.” Bowser’s mom, Sharon Struthers, stayed at the facility for two years — and suffered multiple assaults and falls while in their “care.”
“Going there was like going into hell,” Bowser contended.
“I honestly thought they would kill her before I could get her out,” she added. Bowser has launched a lawsuit against the state-run hospital, and the state Department of Social and Health Services. Though her mother died at a different facility in 2016, the neglect and abuse at Western State are impossible to ignore. She found bruises on her mother’s body, and fungus covering her feet. “They wouldn’t bathe her. She would tell me that another patient hit her,” Bowser explained.
Struthers went on to suffer falls that resulted in a broken arm and hip — and she was sexually assaulted on multiple occasions. Emails show that licensed mental health counselor Mark Allen told hospital officials putting a registered sex offender on Struthers’ ward was safe because he was a “child molester, not adult rapist.”
After the assault, Allen argued that the “encounter” appeared to have been between “two consulting adults.” But Bowser’s lawyer says Struthers was hospitalized because she couldn’t take care of herself (which means, she couldn’t consent).
In another total misstep by management, nursing supervisor Paul Vilja was punished after filing a complaint when “a man who was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the deaths of multiple people was moved from a secure ward into one with limited security.” Vilja said the patient was a danger to others, and a possible flight risk.
Even though hospital officials agreed with Vilja, the nursing supervisor ended up being moved to a different department within a week — and was barred from working with patients for six months. Multiple employees say they were punished in a similar fashion for sounding the alarm on decisions that put patients and staff at risk. Two were actually fired.
The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently stripped the hospital of its certification and federal funding — a total loss of $53 million per year, which equates to about 20 percent of the budget.
While state officials continue to pin blame on the hospital, little action is being taken to fundamentally change how it’s being run. Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee commented, “We have been on a course correction to turn this ship around and we are continuing on that course of improvement.”
Inslee and his ilk have poured over $100 million into state mental healthcare since 2014, but where is it all going? At Western State, 15 psychiatrists have left — and no one new has been hired. Nurses are replaced with “nurse educators” who don’t even see patients. While state legislators wag their fingers at the hospital, courts have tried to force Western State to take on more patients, even when there’s no space for them.
This is what happens when Big Government gets involved with medicine. See more coverage at BigGovernment.news.
Sources for this article include: