For years, we residents of the State of Washington have been hearing about the woes of our largest state psychiatric institution, Western State Hospital in Lakewood (south of Tacoma). This institution has had numerous escapes of dangerous inmates, reports of employees attacked by inmates (and sometimes attacking, themselves), and staff shortages and resignations. Once, a court commissioner nearly put Cheryl Strange, the Head of Western State Hospital in jail for not admitting an obviously insane patient who had been picked up by local authorities. The Federal Government, which contributes funds to the running of the hospital, has threatened to withdraw support if the hospital can’t improve its operations. This institution has been a hot mess for years!
So, today, the Governor has appointed a new head of the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), which has had its own problems for many years (mistreated foster kids, elder abuse, high staff turnover, very high caseloads for social workers). And that new head of DSHS would be…wait for it…Cheryl Strange! So the state now has a head of the most-stressed cabinet institution, who has already demonstrated failure to handle the huge institution she has been responsible for for years! It is my considered opinion that Governor Jay Inslee needs to be committed to Ms. Strange’s former institution, so he can see how really competent his new head of DSHS really is.