Blog WSH

A Word From A Respected WSH Psychiatrist

The following article is from a respected Psychiatrist, Dr Wainer from WSH, in whom I trust completely:


Contact Dr Wainer here.

I work at Western State Hospital with incredibly dedicated doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers, therapists, counselors, custodians, pharmacists, mental health technicians, grounds keepers, ward clerks, librarians, security officers, maintenance workers, carpenters, office assistants, kitchen staff, and many, many more.  We are often the closest thing to a family that our patients have.  We have been here, for them, twenty four hours every day, seven days every week, year after year, for the past 144 years.  

It breaks our hearts not to be able to provide the care they need.  Those of us that work everyday with patients feel a sense of futility as we're asked to put more efforts into paperwork fixes which simply give the illusion of care.  Yet, our desperate requests for more time and more people to work with patients have been marginalized as naive and simply ignored. 

Our patients have suffered as a result. Some have died.  Our staff have been seriously injured.   We've endured, as much as possible, the overriding imperative handed from the top down, to cut costs.  Superficial fixes and the maintenance of an illusion of care have become priorities.  With each citation from The Joint Commission or CMS, another layer of these paper fixes are mandated by an administration focused on spending the least amount of money while just barely maintaining federal accreditation.  A larger and larger percentage of the limited resources are directed towards building this facade of care directed at CMS and the Joint Commission without investing the necessary resources to truly improve care. 

A good hospital is run by “caring”.   An uncompromising priority to genuinely care for the health and safety of each individual patient and staff requires a hospital’s leaders to demonstrate courage.  It requires a willingness to forgo politics and address the stark reality for what it is.  This degree of courage has not been apparent over the past few of years at Western State Hospital.

Recently surveyors from The Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services (CMS) cited the hospital for several very serious problems.  The medical staff had warned the hospital administration and DSHS of these very same problems repeatedly, for over a year.   We repeatedly told the CEO of Western State Hospital, the Assistant Secretaries and Secretary of DSHS about our concerns regarding hospital safety, patient care and staffing levels.  We were told that these concerns were beyond our jurisdiction and/or lacked significance.   

As CMS announced their conclusions the hospital administration and DSHS suddenly made an about face.  For many of us, this about face made it clear that our personal view as care providers meant very little to the hospital administration and DSHS.  It was simply the potential loss of $64M from CMS that, to the hospital administration and DSHS, meant everything.

The hospital’s official policy stipulates that if an employee has contact with the media, they must state that their views do not reflect the official views of the hospital or DSHS.  In this instance, the views contained in this letter reflect my personal views as a physician and likely the majority of us who have provided the day to day care for our patients for decades.  They, sadly, do not reflect the views of those who are officially “in charge” of the hospital.

© Paul Vilja 2017