County acts to address patient, staff welfare

Pierce County Friday announced that plans have been completed for transferring all patients from Puget Sound Behavioral Health, the county's...

Pierce County Friday announced that plans have been completed for transferring all patients from Puget Sound Behavioral Health, the county’s psychiatric hospital, as required by the state Department of Health. The state’s deadline for relocating patients is Jan. 20.

Relocating patients is one of the steps taken by Pierce County to address DOH concerns included in a Jan. 11 letter to the county. “We are committed to assuring the health and safety of psychiatric patients as well as the staff that serves the patients,” said Fran Lewis, manager of the Pierce County Regional Support Network.

The RSN operates the hospital and is planning – with DOH approval – to reopen as a Residential Treatment Facility this spring. The proposed facility would provide both evaluation and treatment and serve essentially the same population it served as a hospital the past five years. As an evaluation and treatment facility, licensed by DOH and certified by the state Mental Health Division, it could admit involuntary patients on 72-hour emergency detention basis and treat people involuntarily on 14-day court commitments. It could accept voluntary patients who meet medically necessary criteria for inpatient medical health treatment.

“We are making every effort to cooperate with DOH to assure that the state’s concerns are addressed in order for PSBH to return to a position in good standing,” Lewis said. A settlement hearing between the county and state is scheduled for Jan. 30, and the county hopes to leave the meeting with the state’s concerns having been met.

The county’s response to DOH also includes these actions:

— Open a new “Secure Detox” in the proposed Residential Treatment Facility.

— Consolidate patients on one floor to increase staff to patient ratios; they previously were housed on two floors.

— Discharge or transfer to Western State Hospital all patients by Jan. 20.

“We continue to meet our obligation to serve those individuals needing voluntary inpatient care, consistent with the Regional Support Network contract, by authorizing inpatient mental health treatment at hospitals in the greater Puget Sound region,” Lewis said. “It is important for the community to understand that during this time the majority of services offered by the Regional Support Network remain open.”

The PCRSN services include 24-hour crisis outreach and phone services, involuntary commitment for mental health treatment, the Crisis Triage Center, jail mental health services, and outpatient and residential mental health services provided by contracted community mental health agencies (Catholic Community Services, Comprehensive Mental Health, Greater Lakes Mental Healthcare, Good Samaritan Behavioral Healthcare, Kawachee and SeaMar).

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