People of Northwest Public Radio
Psychiatric Hospital Death
Thu April 26, 2012
Second Violent Death At Western State Hospital
A second patient at Western State Hospital has died violently in less than a week. Lakewood Police say 20-year-old Megan Templeton hanged herself with a bed sheet at the state's largest psychiatric hospital.
She was found, alive, just after midnight Saturday night. She was taken to the intensive care unit at St. Clare Hospital in Lakewood, where she died Tuesday night.
Templeton hanged herself a day after another patient was apparently murdered on a different ward at Western.
Pierce County prosecutors have charged 40-year-old Elliott Goodin with second-degree murder. He's accused of strangling of fellow patient Paul Montefusco after Montefusco entered Goodin's room.
Union officials say the staff at Western are reeling after the back-to-back fatalities.
Carol Dotlich is with the Washington Federation of State Employees.
Dotlich: "The workforce is traumatized, they're devastated and they're grieving. They're also very worried about staffing levels, making sure they're adequate to meet needs of severely mentally ill people."
Dotlich says the hospital has more than 90 vacant staff positions. She says the union has been pushing to have the vacancies filled for months.
Western officials have brought in grief counselors to help both patients and employees cope with the deaths. I'm John Ryan in Seattle.