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Washington DSHS Official Wants Culture Change at Eastern State Hospital

Doug Nadvornick

Washington state officials say a culture change is needed at Eastern State Hospital. That's their assessment after investigating how a potentially dangerous patient walked away from a Spokane fair last month. A review makes it clear hospital officials made mistakes.


Department of Social and Health Services Secretary Susan Dreyfus says she's disturbed about the decision to let Phillip Paul go to the fair. Paul has schizophrenia. He killed a woman in Sunnyside, Washington in 1987. Dreyfus says she's also concerned that hospital officials waited 90 minutes before notifying the state patrol that Paul had disappeared. The agency's mental health director, Richard Kellogg, says Eastern State officials need to change their attitude toward law enforcement.

Kellogg: "We simply do not have a mature set of protocols and understandings from the hospital to our community law enforcement partners. And we need to change that."

When the review of Eastern State Hospital's response to Paul's disappearance is finished, Secretary Dreyfus has asked a newly–formed committee of law enforcement and mental health experts to look it over. She says that group will also review the community safety–related policies at both Washington state mental hospitals.

Doug Nadvornick, Spokane Public Radio.

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