The following is the press release issued by the same people that in the past have spun department failings to avoid accountability and exposure. So, this approach is welcomed. We hope that the Children's Division will be so treated.
RE: The escape of a criminally insane killer...at the fair grounds
October 02, 2009
DSHS Secretary Dreyfus outlines follow-up at Eastern State Hospital in wake of September 17 escape
SPOKANE, Wash. – DSHS Secretary Susan N. Dreyfus said Friday that she is concerned about lapses in hospital policy detailed in a critical incident review of a forensic patient’s three-day escape from an Eastern State Hospital field trip at the Spokane County Interstate Fair on Sept. 17.
Secretary Dreyfus said the suspension of field trips at the two adult psychiatric hospitals that she ordered during the escape would remain in effect.
She said she is looking further into the failure of the hospital staff to call 9-1-1 and the clinical decision making around this field trip to determine whether discipline may be appropriate.
“Once I have clear answers to those two questions, I will take any appropriate disciplinary action in accordance with the Washington Administrative Code and the Collective Bargaining Agreements between these employees and the state,” she said.
Dreyfus said she is appointing a panel of experts chaired by Dr. Richard Veith, M.D., head of the University of Washington Department of Behavioral Health and Sciences, to look into those overall policies. She said members of the State Psychiatric Hospital Safety Review Panel include clinical, legal and security experts, a consumer advocate, and law enforcement – including Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.
In addition to examining the Eastern State Hospital critical incident review, the panel will identify policy and procedures related to the incident that may need to be changed at either state hospital to improve community safety. Both Eastern and Western State Hospitals experienced forensic patient escapes during September.
“We want the panel members to verify that our critical incident investigation was thorough and to review policies and procedures related to this incident,” Dreyfus said.
She also would like the panel to submit recommendations on how the state assures patient, staff and community safety while providing appropriate therapeutic interventions and community reintegration support for the growing numbers of forensic mental health patients in the state psychiatric hospitals.
She said she expects the panel’s report and recommendations by December 1.
“Although public safety must be our first concern,” Dreyfus said, “it is important that we not let this unfortunate incident frame how we as a state see people who live with mental illness. Mental illness touches all of us, and people can indeed recover and lead successful lives.”
A copy of the Critical Incident Review released Friday by Secretary Dreyfus is posted on the DSHS Web page at http://www.dshs.wa.gov