Washington hospital CEO avoids jail — for now

The CEO of Lakewood, Wash.-based Western State Hospital will not have to report to jail Wednesday over her refusal to admit a man to the Lakewood, Wash.-based psychiatric hospital.

Cheryl Strange, who was named CEO of Western State in April, was found in contempt of court Friday for keeping a man with dementia and behavioral disturbances on the wait list for admission after a civil court ordered the man to go to the hospital earlier this year. Ms. Strange was given the option to either admit the patient or report to jail Wednesday.

After the hearing Friday, Ms. Strange said she would report to jail as she didn't intend to admit the patient. However, the Washington Department of Social and Health Services stepped in and asked a judge to issue a stay. The judge granted the state's request, keeping Ms. Strange out of jail at least through June 21, according to The Seattle Times.

The man at the center of the case is one of 73 people waiting to be admitted to Western State. While waiting to be admitted, the man has been held in a general acute care hospital for more than a 30-day stretch in violation of state law, according to Pierce County Superior Court Commissioner Craig Adams.

Western State has faced a string of problems this year. In early April, two patients deemed "dangerous" escaped from the facility. One was found the same day and the other was located the next day. In addition to severe staffing shortages, Washington state officials have amped up safety and security measures at the hospital.

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