State Senator To Propose More Security in Psychiatric Wards

Nov 29, 2012

One Washington state senator says it is past time for lawmakers to increase safety at the state’s two psychiatric hospitals. Paige Browning reports Senator Mike Carrell announced he will propose legislation in the coming term.

The front entrance of Western State Hospital in Lakewood.
Credit Photo by John Ryan / Northwest News Network

Republican Senator Carrell announced his plans one week after a patient apparently killed another patient at Eastern State Hospital, and just months after a patient murder at Western state.

First, he says forensic wards need trained security guards present. Department of Social and Health Services spokesperson John Wiley says Eastern State has psychiatric security attendants and nurses on the wards, but not security guards. This worries Carrell.

Carrell: “They really aren’t trained to intervene when there is an assault taking place, and they’re not typically present on the wards either.”

Currently criminally mentally ill patients are sent to the forensic wards. For repeatedly dangerous patients, Carrell says the state either needs stand-alone hospital units, or should send them to forensic wards in prisons.

Carrell represents Lakewood Washington, home to Western State Hospital.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio