If you are looking for someone to hold accountable for the sorry state of Washington’s mental-health system, look no further than Jay Inslee.
In fact, the Seattle Times’ Jonathan Martin recently wrote, “If taxpayers were to understand what’s going on, they would be rooting for [Pierce County Superior Court commissioner Craig Adams] to throw Gov. Jay Inslee in jail instead of the hospital’s brand-new CEO, Cheryl Strange.”
Washington’s mental health crisis is a problem that has festered after years and years of Democrat leadership in Olympia. Our state is ranked “near the bottom in the nation in access to community psychiatric beds.” Recent headlines exposed that patients were “routinely ‘boarded’ in emergency rooms, sometimes strapped to gurneys without treatment.”
In an attempt to address the problem, lawmakers “poured in at least $120 million in the last two years by opening more than 150 new short-term psychiatric beds in community hospitals and paying for two new wards at Western State Hospital.” Unfortunately, substantial improvements have not been made. Via the Seattle Times:
“After all that spending, the rate of emergency-room boarding briefly dipped but is now back up to the level it was before the Supreme Court ruling. Patients in King County are actually waiting longer on average to get into Western State Hospital — more than a month. Overall, the waiting list for civilly committed patients is more than 70 names long.
“The bottleneck at Western State Hospital is caused by a severe staffing crunch. Part of that is inadequate pay for difficult-to-fill positions. Inslee wants to blame that on the Legislature’s budget-writers — but the hospital’s budget is now up to pre-Recession levels, adjusted for inflation.”
Inslee’s failed leadership has only made the problems caused by his Democrat predecessors worse. Our very green governor has presided over a “toxic labor-management culture, with rapid turnover.” Under his so-called leadership, whistleblowers fear retaliation and — of course — the special interests-driven will of labor unions rules. Via the Seattle Times’ Jonathan Martin:
“You know whom Inslee does listen to regarding Western State Hospital? The union.
“After a meeting and a letter from the Washington Federation of State Employees, Inslee vetoed new authority for Western State Hospital to ease its staffing crunch by quickly hiring advanced registered nurse practitioners to ease the workload for doctors. The veto baffled everyone, including fellow Democrats in Olympia who championed the change.
“Message: A crisis is not a crisis if a major campaign contributor asks for a favor.”
Inslee’ willingness to place the will of unions/major campaign contributors over what is best for Washingtonians is not new or unique to the mental-health system. Rather, it’s the type of quid-pro-quo culture that defines Inslee’s administration.