Danger at Western State Hospital


At Western State Hospital in South Hall Dennis Brockschmidt was assaulted on Tuesday 11/25/14.  Dennis is an RN3 who is frequently assigned (Per current CEO policy) to perform duties as an RN2 rather than pay for voluntary overtime to bolster staff to minimum levels.  Willie Saw RN3 was also assaulted several months ago in South Hall along with another RN2.  This is a disturbing and dangerous trend. 


The 11/25/14 assault occurred when apparently several patients banded together.  Dennis was attacked by one patient from the front, striking his head and face while another patient hit him from behind.  An MHT came to help and one of the patients put him in a choke hold until loss of consciousness. Dennis was knocked to the floor and then kicked in the head on the forehead.  Help was not quick to arrive because staffing was at bare minimum within the unit.  On Monday 11/24/14 Dennis was tasked to work as the ward charge nurse and had obtained orders to search the patient rooms for weapons which were then confiscated.  The weapon confiscations are thought to be the trigger incident for two patients to assault Dennis the next day.  Also injured in the 11/25/14 attack were Bella Lavi RN2 and Martin Gitau MHT1. 


I must state that I concur with the Doctors of WSH who had a vote of no confidence in the CEO this past week.  We need new leadership that values its employees rather than its buildings and capital projects.  Staffing needs to come first.  As the past Co-Chair of the Joint Nurse Staffing Committee, I know that WSH uses an average of 100.37 overtime persons per day (pursuant to the past eight months statistics). To null out overtime will require an additional 159 full time positions to bring WSH to a position to meet current minimal staffing levels.  Of the 159 full time positions, over 90 of these positions must be RN2’s to bring the number of RN2 FTE’s to three per ward per shift.  WSH requires three licensed staff per ward to be present to be able to provide high alert medications like insulin throughout the entire shift.  WSH is incapable of currently providing three licensed staff per ward per shift per day to meet this criteria.  I was present at the hearings in Olympia before the Legislature when the CEO of WSH stated that additional staffing would not be requested for funding even when prompted by the Legislature when they displayed the overtime statistics to him.  


Mental health must be funded.  But sound leadership is required to assure that funding goes to the correct areas to provide the best possible care.  Rather than fund ward level staffing, the current CEO funded seven million dollars to a psychiatric emergency response team (PERT).  PERT funding needs to be rerouted to provide additional full time direct patient care positions.  All capital programs should be put on hold until additional direct patient care positions can safely provide the level of care required by our patients.  Patient care must come first.

  

© Paul Vilja 2017