Cover Ups, Government Corruption, Wasted Taxpayer Funds

This past week we learned that Western State Hospital voluntarily and with great secrecy withdrew its Joint Commission accreditation on May 24, 2016 while it continued to advertise it was fully accredited and lied to its staff members for months.  We learned that even members of the WSH Executive Leadership Team were kept in the dark about the secret accreditation withdrawal.  We saw DSHS Administration lie to its employees in statements regarding that withdrawal.  The CEO falsely stated that the withdrawal occurred in June 2016 while the Assistant Secretary of DSHS falsely stated that there was a communication error when it appears there was actually a full blown cover up.  We have a current WSH administration that simply cannot be trusted.  They have lied every step of the way.

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This past week we also learned that the taxpayer funded consultant group CSM report was released and that DSHS has stated the recommendations of the taxpayer paid consultant group would be kept secret, with DSHS refusing to release the report (or ANY future consultant report) under public disclosure law.  Then a meeting was held by the CEO telling supervision that, based on the leadership teams’ self interpretation of the top secret CSM consultant report by the several individuals that were allowed to see it, Western State Hospital is compelled by the secret report to create an additional $2.6 million dollar a year additional layer of administration called “Ward Program Administrators” in lieu of spending these funds for adequate direct patient care personnel.  The announcement was for 28 Ward Program Administrators (WPA’s) to lead day to day non-clinical operations at $85,000 to $93,000 per year.  

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This is a repeated effort to implement a failed process that had failed and been shut down in the past.  The last time DSHS did this, it was funded through vacant registered nurse position funds.  There was a $60,000 variation in wages for many ward program managers that performed the identical duty.  Not only did the Office of State Auditor play a role in the shut down of that corrupt program, but Labor and Industries also submitted reports which assisted shut down the program based on unclear and confusing chain of command structures the program produced.  These reports are public record.  It is believed that if the CSM Consultant Report was allowed to be viewed by the public, no reasonable person would conclude that an additional layer of administration would be required and that existing clinical supervisory structures could be enhanced through the provision of additional direct patient care personnel at a fraction of the cost with superior clinical results.  I ask that the legislature view the top secret taxpayer paid CSM Consultant Report and disapprove the funding for an additional layer of administration at a cost of $2.6 million dollars per year, and above all… Let taxpayers see all consultant reports which they (the tax payer) have paid for.    

Two years ago DSHS requested zero additional full time direct patient care positions from the legislature at a time when overtime use was off the charts.  Only this year were some 50 additional RN2’s requested, when 114 was what was required.  In addition to that we required approximately 10 additional full time LPN positions and approximately 40 additional nurse aide class employees.  In addition we require over 40 food aides in order for direct care providers to not have to prepare bulk delivered food (plate and proportion) for over half the wards of Western State Hospital.  The lack of direct care providers is the true issue.  Because we are so sort of direct patient care providers, nursing supervisors are often required to perform direct patient care duties in lieu of supervisory duties.  This is the root cause of failure, another layer of supervision will accomplish nothing.  Western State Hospital is not functional because there are insufficient direct patient care personnel to provide for active training and coverage for leave. This staffing deficit has existed for years due to incompetent DSHS Administration that blindly continues (to this day) to see the problem as there never being enough administrative personnel to micromanage the massively understaffed direct patient care class of personnel.

The current Governor and DSHS Administration have taken unusual levels of action to prevent transparency of government and prevent active reporting relationships from occurring through numerous processes to assure patient safety.  I believe that these actions have been implemented to keep patient care concerns and critical incidents silent during an election year.  Patient safety has never been at greater risk than during this period of time, when directives have been issued by Administration to PREVENT reporting of events to external agencies.  We need transparency and open communication with our legislators. 

Not only has DSHS Administration severed mandatory reporting relationships with the Department of Health, it secretly severed mandatory reporting relationships with The Joint Commission, and has essentially severed direct accountability with the Centers of Medicare Services (CMS) by entering into a Systems Improvement Agreement where top secret (taxpayer funded) recommendations are being issued and interpreted by one or two Governor approved Administrators, the reports are only accessible to the Governor and a couple of WSH Administrators.  What is going on is unethical, inappropriate, and dangerous.  

The Office of State Auditor has been notified of some of the inappropriate actions, including the fact that when the Governor secretly withdrew accreditation, he may have also inadvertently withdrawn the deemed facility license for Western State Hospital to operate legally.  

In the upcoming weeks the Labor Unions must take the following actions:

  • Unfair Labor Practice charges must be filed for secretly withdrawing accreditation without informing any union of this important change in work conditions, additionally DSHS knowingly advertised to union members that WSH was fully accredited when it was not in order to entice more employees to apply.
  • All unions need to file a Demand to Bargain to address the change in work conditions resulting from an additional and unnecessary $2.6 million dollar a year expansion of administration.  
  • Informational picketing must be initiated to inform the public of the massive waste in public funding that is being initiated based on a top secret taxpayer paid consultant report which DSHS claims will never be disclosed to the public that results in expansion of administration by $2.6 million dollars per year in lieu of providing adequate DIRECT patient care staffing.  
  • All staff members of Western State Hospital need to call or visit their legislators to inform them of what is occurring.  This is an election year, we need to vote out those legislators that support secret taxpayer paid consultant reports that cannot be viewed by the public and massive expansions of administration while patient care suffers.  

© Paul Vilja 2017