The Pierce County Council adopted Resolution 2019-2, 2019 legislative priorities to address the closure of civil commitment beds at Western State Hospital as recommended by the Pierce County Western State Hospital Task Force (PC Task Force). Priorities focus on community-based facilities, community-based treatment, behavioral health facilities, housing and workforce development, training and retention.
Council established the PC Task Force after the Governor’s announcement to close all civil commitment beds at Western State Hospital and concerns Pierce County is at risk of being disproportionally impacted by the reduction of beds. PC Task Force is charged with reviewing the potential impacts of the State’s decision on Pierce County, and to offer recommendations for addressing expected impacts.
“Governor Inslee wants the closure of all these beds to be in place by 2023,” said Connie Ladenburg, Pierce County Councilmember District 4. “That is around 500 people potentially being released into our community with unknown services, oversight, or a funding source. We must proactively work with our legislators on how we want to see this transition happen to reduce the impact to our community.”
Based on the PC Task Force’s review of the situation and data the 2019 legislative priorities include:
- Community-based facilities
- Return of all long-term, civilly committed patients discharged from Western State Hospital to their County of origin.
- Creation of an interdisciplinary discharge planning group.
- Capital Funding for sufficient community-based facilities.
- Investments in criminal justice diversion facilities, programs and services.
- Community-based treatment
- Investments to increase the quality and quantity of community-based treatment providers.
- Less Restrictive Alternative (LRA) treatment.
- Healthcare laws based on the need for treatment.
- Behavioral health facilities
- Outpatient behavioral health facilities should support both voluntary and involuntary treatment.
- Appropriate and stable housing that supports a variety of behavioral health care objectives.
- Workforce development, training and retention
- Increase peer employment.
- Increase peer education incentives and planning.
- Support efforts to build and retain a qualified behavioral health workforce.
The Council will forward the recommendations on to the Pierce County legislative delegation and Governor Inslee. The PC Task Force will continue to be assertive in proactively assisting the State with a successful transition strategy.
For more information on the Pierce County Council go to www.piercecountywa.gov/council.
Erin Babbo, Communications specialist