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Washington psychiatric hospital no longer accredited

The main entrance of Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Wash.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan
The main entrance of Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Wash.

Washington's largest psychiatric hospital has operated without national accreditation since June. It became clear Monday, though, that Western State Hospital did not notify staff, job applicants or the public.

Western State Hospital in Lakewood says it voluntarily withdrew from national accreditation at the end of May, which the accrediting board called the Joint Commission confirms.

At that time , hospital officials drafted a letter to notify employees, but it never went out. And up until this week, the hospital's website still said it was nationally accredited.

Western State has been plagued with issues, including escapes by dangerous patients, inadequate treatment for mentally ill people charged with crimes and low staffing levels.

The Department of Social and Health Services oversees the hospital. Carla Reyes at DSHS said the hospital already was in violation of Medicaid's conditions and working to fix that. She said that's why a check-up with national accreditors was canceled in May.

Reyes: "Because we weren't meeting those underlying conditions of participation. So it didn't make sense to us to do that survey when they couldn't deem us [as accredited]."

The hospital knew it couldn't meet accreditation standards if it wasn't already meeting some Medicaid standards. Reyes said lacking accreditation won't impact hiring practices or patient safety. The hospital is working to improve both of those areas so it can comply with Medicaid rules again.

Washington state's other psychiatric hospital, Eastern State, is still nationally accredited by the Joint Commission.