A patient from Eastern State Hospital wanted to share his experience with COVID-19. Todd’s story is hand written, compelling and very touching. His words provide a different perspective during these challenging times. We hope you take the time to read Todd’s experience:

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The CSTC Orcas treatment team impressed The Joint Commission surveyors with their high level of collaboration with the patient, family, community stakeholders, and each other.

LAKEWOOD — The Department of Social and Health Services Child Study and Treatment Center has been re-accredited by The Joint Commission.

Joint Commission accreditation and certification is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards. CSTC is the only state-operated and funded psychiatric hospital for children and youth who have psychological and safety needs that cannot be met in their community.

“Achieving The Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval says to our patients, their families, our employees and the community that they can expect a standard of excellence at the Child Study and Treatment Center synonymous with high quality care,” said Sean Murphy, Assistant Secretary, DSHS Behavioral Health Administration. …

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Eight Strategies of the 10-Year Plan to Dismantle Poverty


Lindy Henry, Dismantle Poverty in Washington and Department of Social and Health Services’ Economic Services Administration
Penny Thomas, Department of Commerce
Norah West, Department of Social and Health Services
Clare DeLong, Employment Security Department

OLYMPIA — Washington has long ranked among the top states to live in the nation, and the state has enacted several leading policies to support lower-income families such as a strong minimum wage, the Washington College Grant, paid family and medical leave, paid sick leave and the nation’s first public long-term care benefit.

Poverty, however, has been a persistent challenge, even as Washington’s economy has consistently ranked among the best. Despite a strong economy prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly one in four Washingtonians — 1.75 million people, including 500,000 children — struggled to make ends meet. The pandemic ushered in a public health and economic crisis that exposed many existing disparities in our communities. …

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Resident Cissy Harris receives support while also receiving her Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 5, 2021.

The holidays are over, but it felt a little like Christmas this week for about 125 people at Yakima Valley School who received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Three teams from Walgreens visited the site in Selah Jan. 5 and inoculated 44 residents at the state-run center for persons with developmental and intellectual disabilities, and about 80 employees who care for them.

“There was an excitement in the room today,” said Jill Sinsel-McPherson, Assistant Superintendent. “People were very optimistic and thrilled with the opportunity.”

Leading up to the vaccination clinic, a group of YVS employees supported by Walgreens and dubbed, ‘Team Vaccine,’ worked endless hours planning the event. All campus residents and staff were offered the vaccine, and Team Vaccine ensured they received educational materials (gathered from the Center for Disease Control and the Department of Health) to help them make informed decisions. Yakima Valley School also hosted online meetings for families and guardians; allowing two-way dialogue and an avenue for people to ask their questions and have them answered in real-time. …

A first-hand experience from an Eastern State Hospital employee

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Eastern State Hospital near Medical Lake, WA

DSHS staff who provide direct care to clients at any of the agency’s 24/7 facilities know exactly what it is like to be on the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19. They are often at the highest risk for exposure to the virus.

As of Jan. 4, 2021, Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake, WA, has had 75 staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19 since March 2020. One of the employees who contracted the virus was Jennifer Rich, who has worked at ESH since 2012.

Below is Jennifer’s experience with COVID-19 in her own words. She wants everyone to know and understand that this virus is real. We are so thankful that Jennifer is recovering. It is important to stress that even though there is a vaccine available now, we still need to continue wearing masks, socially distancing and washing our hands frequently. …

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CV19 CheckUp provides users with a personalized assessment of their COVID-19 risks.

The Department of Social and Health Services, in partnership with BellAge, Inc., has launched CV19 CheckUp in Washington state. The website is a free, anonymous and personalized online tool that evaluates an individual’s risks associated with COVID-19 based on their life situation and individual behavior. After spending a few minutes filling out a survey, CV19 Checkup provides the user with recommendations and resources to reduce those risks.

“CV19 CheckUp helps Washingtonians better understand their risk of getting and spreading COVID-19, and how to take steps to reduce their risk,” said DSHS Assistant Secretary Bill Moss. …

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Superintendent Connie Lambert-Eckel receives first vaccine at Lakeland Village the first week of 2021.

Jan. 4, 2021 was a day to remember at Lakeland Village. It’s the day 31 residents who live at the facility and 198 staff who work at the habilitation center in Medical Lake received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The center is one of four operated by the state that provides 24/7 care for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

First to receive the injection was Superintendent Connie Lambert-Eckel, who wanted to show confidence in the vaccine and demonstrate a desire for change.

“I am so grateful we were offered the vaccine today,” said Lambert-Eckel. “And I’m hopeful for the residents and staff after a particularly harrowing and debilitating year with COVID-19.” …

A lighted box truck for the Yakima Valley School parade.
A lighted box truck for the Yakima Valley School parade.
A box truck decorated for the Yakima Valley School parade. Photo courtesy of YVS.

Along with caring for citizens during a pandemic, staff at Yakima Valley School in Selah worked like elves this season to ensure the residents don’t miss out on holiday traditions. One tradition typically includes taking residents to watch the Selah Lighted Christmas Lighted Parade.

This year, because of COVID-19 restrictions and heightened health risks, YVS staff brought the Lighted Parade to the residents.

On Dec. 16, Santa (Erik Pearson) and YVS reindeer staff adorned pickups, a fire truck, a box van and other vehicles with lights and decorations. They fashioned a parade that traveled through the campus and each cul-de-sac. …

Chief Nursing Officer Jennifer Brown administering a COVID-19 vaccine to a Western State Hospital employee.
Chief Nursing Officer Jennifer Brown administering a COVID-19 vaccine to a Western State Hospital employee.
Chief Nursing Officer Jennifer Brown administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a Western State Hospital employee. Photo courtesy of WSH.

LAKEWOOD — Department of Social and Health Services employees eligible for the first round of COVID-19 vaccines got their first dose today, Wednesday, Dec. 23 at Western State Hospital.

DSHS worked with its partner agency, the Department of Health, to apply through the Emergency Use Authorization agreement approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration earlier this month to receive vaccine for staff who are at the greatest risk of exposure to the deadly virus.

Vaccines are voluntary for staff and DSHS leadership see this as the first step towards getting to the other side of this pandemic that has ravaged the world for the past 10 months. …

Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another and feeling with the heart of another.” Anonymous

The Department of Social and Health Services is using the latest in state-of-the-art technology to enhance its efforts around safety and patient empathy at its oldest and largest 24/7 facility — Western State Hospital.

To create the five-part virtual reality (VR) training, the agency used funding provided by the state Legislature and Governor Jay Inslee for safety and training investments. On the first day of orientation, new employees put on a high-resolution virtual reality headset and immerse themselves, with a 360-degree view, in a person’s life who is living with a mental illness. …

Department of Social and Health Services

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