Psychiatric Security Attendant Joshua McMullen, left, and Nurse Cindy Choate, right, worked on Western State Hospital’s COVID-19 ward for the entire year that it was open.

Many people answered the call when Western State Hospital asked for volunteers to work on the COVID ward on March 31, 2020. Two of them worked on the ward the entire time it was open.

A year later, the COVID-19 pandemic has begun to wane and the special ward has closed. With that closure, RN2 Cindy Choate and Psychiatric Security Attendant Joshua McMullen are back on their home wards and recently reflected on their experience.

“At first it was a little bit scary,” Choate said. “Everyone was a little bit scared, a little bit apprehensive. …

Dr. Bruce Gage

Dr. Bruce Gage, who for many years served as the lead psychiatrist for forensic services at Western State Hospital, recently passed away.

On June 5, 2020, the Center for Forensic Services at Western State Hospital was officially renamed the Dr. Bruce Gage Center for Forensic Excellence. Dr. Gage had been ill and his former colleagues at Western wanted to do something to honor his legacy. They thought that the best way to do that was to have the building where he formerly worked be officially named after him.

In a letter to Dr. Gage, DSHS Secretary, Cheryl Strange said, “Your…

In 2019, the Washington State legislature enacted the Long-Term Services and Supports Trust Act (RCW 50B), becoming the first in the nation to take such a bold step toward addressing the coming long-term care crisis. The Aging and Long-Term Support Administration is one of four agencies, along with the Employment Security Department, the Health Care Authority, and the State Actuary, tasked with implementing and administering the program, which has now officially been named the WA Cares Fund.

The WA Cares Fund is one significant way Washington is addressing the anticipated growth in our state’s aging population, which mirrors national trends…

Eastern State Hospital Occupational Therapy Team

by Rob Johnson, DSHS Behavioral Health Administration

Expect a 30-minute stream of excited commentary when the topic of occupational therapy is brought up to Joy Gilbert.

Her passion for the job is so immense it’s contagious. And with April being National Occupational Therapy Month, she was thrilled to discuss the work of the occupational therapy staff who serve patients of Eastern State Hospital.

“I really love what I do,” said Gilbert, a licensed and registered occupational therapist since 1988 who has worked at Eastern since 2019. “I’ve worked in many different parts of the profession and mental health is the…

Contacts: Adolfo Capestany, (360) 878–1240 or Suzie Ovel, (360) 628–2426

OLYMPIA — The Department of Social and Health Services is reaching a major milestone this week toward Governor Inslee’s vision for a multi-biennia, statewide transformation of Washington’s behavioral health system. The plan focuses on developing a 21st century system of care by, in part, creating Forensic Centers of Excellence at state-operated psychiatric hospitals.

As part of the transformation, Western State Hospital is becoming two independent operations centers:

  • Civil Center of Excellence: continue civil operations while developing plans for the new 350-bed hospital; and
  • Gage Center of Forensic Excellence: provide state-of-the-art…

Lisa Copeland
(360) 890–2055

Debbie Roberts

April 21, 2020

OLYMPIA — DSHS Secretary Cheryl Strange announced today the appointment of a senior leadership position to the agency’s Developmental Disabilities Administration. The new appointment results from the January announcement that Evelyn Perez, assistant secretary for DDA since 2013, will retire at the end of April.

“I am grateful to Evelyn for all of her hard work and tremendous leadership — she has truly earned her retirement,” said Strange. “Evelyn dedicated 35 years of public service to DSHS and the people of Washington state. …

Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund logo
Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund logo
Image courtesy of Wahsington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund

Norah West, DSHS Media Relations

OLYMPIA — Millions of Washingtonians have been adversely impacted and have endured economic hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including 250,000 people who have been unable to access unemployment insurance compensation and federal stimulus packages due to their immigration status. Starting Wednesday, April 21, applications will be open for additional rounds of the Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund. Applications are open until May 21, 2021, and funds will be distributed to approved applicants between June 1 and June 15, 2021.

The Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund is a pool of funding created during…

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help Kassie Dewey’s family. Click here to donate.

The following is a message from Secretary Cheryl Strange:

Dear DSHS Colleagues,

Last week was agonizing for our DSHS family, especially for those working at Eastern State Hospital. We learned that one of our colleagues, Kassie Dewey, a Mental Health Technician at the hospital, died and her five-year-old daughter was seriously injured, in a senseless act of domestic violence.

I did not know Kassie personally, but I have heard from many of you who did. What I have learned is that she was an…

Behavioral Health Administration employees and medical experts discuss the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

New construction, virtual reality training and competency restoration treatment all got spotlighted in a tour with Department of Social and Health Services Secretary Cheryl Strange at Western State Hospital and the Child Study and Treatment Center on April 7.

The day-long visit — Strange’s first onsite visit to a DSHS facility since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic — began with a chat with onboarding staff at WSH’s New Employee Orientation.

“It’s a very fulfilling job, it’s a very rewarding job, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do,” said Strange. “This is a very special place…

Department of Social and Health Services

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