Zosia Stanley, WSHA policy director for access, testified at a court hearing June 27 on the need for continued reform to our state’s mental health system. Commissioner Craig Adams ordered the hearing to address the state’s system to provide mental health for those needing long term care, including the wait to get into Western State Hospital and the difficulty in transferring patients out. Zosia testified broadly on the need to improve access and funding along the entire continuum of mental health care and the need to expand community services and housing for patients transferring out of Western State. She also testified to the commissioner’s questions on the impact on local hospitals when they must keep psychiatric patients who are detained for long periods but who are not admitted to Western State. The court also heard testimony from representatives from Western State Hospital, Optum (the local behavioral health organization), and several Pierce County evaluation and treatment facilities.
At the end of the hearing, Commissioner Adams expressed his continued frustration that the state’s long-term mental health system has been underfunded, under-resourced and understaffed for more than 35 years. The parties at the hearing will be filing briefs with the court, including addressing the proper remedy the court could impose. Commissioner Adams expects to issue an opinion on July 8. Additional coverage of the hearing can be found here. (Zosia Stanley)