Western State Hospital CEO ordered to jail for keeping dementia patient on waitlist

A court commissioner says Western State Hospital CEO Cheryl Strange must report to jail Wednesday if she doesn’t admit the patient. [Western State Hospital is located just southwest of Tacoma, WA].

Strange says she will not skip over other, possibly more ill patients on the hospital’s long waitlist.

Via the Seattle Times:

Western State Hospital’s new CEO was ordered to report to jail next week, after being found in contempt of court Friday for keeping a patient on the waiting list for admission to the psychiatric hospital.

Pierce County Superior Court Commissioner Craig Adams told Cheryl Strange on Friday to admit a man to the state’s largest psychiatric hospital. Earlier this spring, a civil court ordered the man, who has dementia, to go to the hospital.

If Strange refuses to admit the patient, Adams said she must report to jail Wednesday.

But Strange cited a long list of patients waiting to get into Western State, a facility plagued by shortages of staff and beds. Strange says admitting the patient would mean skipping over others on a waitlist who could be more sick — and she won’t do that. 

After the hearing, held in a courtroom on the Western State campus, Strange said she doesn’t intend to admit the patient. She cited testimony during the hearing that the patient is stable in the current arrangement.

“I will not override that (waitlist) to place somebody to avoid going to jail,” she said. When asked if she will report to jail, Strange said, “I will.”

Western State Hospital, which houses more than 800 patients, has been the subject of years of complaints about everything from assaults on staff members to severe worker shortages and patient escapes. The staff shortage led the facility last year to close a brand-new patient ward.