On April 2, Disability Rights Washington, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, Washington Defender Association, and the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers sent a letter to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), requesting that DSHS immediately undertake efforts to reduce the patient population at both Western State Hospital and Eastern State Hospital. During the same week, Western State Hospital saw its first death from COVID-19 and Eastern State Hospital reported its first positive tests.
The letter suggested that DSHS work with Governor Inslee to take further executive action to reduce the patient population, including the following suggested actions:
- Temporary release of civil patients
- Review all civil patients for full release or Less Restrictive Orders (LROs)
- Furlough Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity (NGRI) patients
- Use COVID-related Medicaid waiver funds and flexibility to facilitate patient release
Read the full letter here.
Additionally, the Northwest Justice Project sent out a similar letter to DSHS on April 3, in support of the above concerns.
April 14, 2020
- Seattle Times- “At Western State Hospital, coronavirus infections add pressure to a psychiatric facility already facing challenges”
April 5, 2020
- The News Tribune- “Advocates want fewer patients at Western State during pandemic; state says effort underway”