Western State Hospital

Western State Hospital (WSH) is one of the nation’s largest psychiatric institutions. Located in Lakewood, the facility was first opened in 1871. It currently supports over 800 beds and staffs more than 2,500 employees.

As the jurisdiction hosting WSH, the City of Lakewood received an initial proposed update to the hospital’s Master Plan in fall 2020 that includes the complete reconstruction of the hospital and its campus near Fort Steilacoom Park. Lakewood is also acting as the lead agency for SEPA review of the proposal.

The facility is operated by the Washington State Department of Social & Health Services (DSHS). DSHS is a primary source of information regarding the operations of the facility, but hospital business that is pertinent to Lakewood residents will be summarized here.

Courtney Brunell
Planning Manager – Permitting
6000 Main St SW
Lakewood, WA 98499
(253) 512-2261

[email protected]

Phones & Email:
Monday to Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.


Western State Hospital Project Overview

The master plan for WSH calls for a new 350-bed forensic hospital on the existing WSH campus in Lakewood. Many of the existing facilities are aging and no longer comply with federal standards for the care of mental health patients. The approach to behavioral health care has also evolved, meaning that many of the WSH facilities are no longer well-suited to the provision of core services.

Significantly, the State has adopted a new approach to behavioral health care, recognizing that the needs of “forensic commitment” patients (those accused of a crime) are different than those of “civil commitment” patients (those determined by the courts to be a potential danger to themselves or the public, but not accused of a crime).

A core goal of the new state policy is to distribute services for civil commitment patients throughout the state, so that patients can be near family and community support. The model for this care is a combination of community hospitals and residential treatment facilities of 16 to 48 beds each. As new civil commitment facilities become available in western Washington, civil patient capacity at WSH will be reduced. Under this model, Western State Hospital itself will concentrate on treatment of forensic-commitment patients.

This will include demolition of several existing buildings that are out-moded. At the CSTC, a second 18-bed residential cottage will be developed, as well as a treatment and recreation center.

The WSH master plan also allocates space for a new community residential treatment facility (RTF) of 48 beds, as one possible site within the western Washington region identified for such a facility.


Updates

September 21, 2022 – The Hearing Examiner issued his Decision on the Request for Reconsideration.

View the Decision on the Request for Reconsideration here.

September 8, 2022The Hearing Examiner has issued an Order setting the Briefing Schedule for Reconsideration of the Decision.

On September 6, the Lakewood Hearing Examiner issued an Order setting the Briefing Schedule for Reconsideration of the Final Decision.

September 1, 2022Department of Human Services has filed a request for reconsideration of the Hearing Examiner’s Decision

On August 30, 2022 the Department of Social and Health Services filed a request for reconsideration on the Hearing Examiner’s Decision issued to parties of record on August 22, 2022.

August 22, 2022 – WSH Master Plan Hearing Examiner Decision

The Lakewood Hearing Examiner has issued his Final Decision on the DSHS conditional use permit and master plan application to amend the 1999 Western State Hospital (WSH) Master Facilities Plan for a major reconstruction of the WSH campus.

July 28, 2022 – WSH Master Plan Public Hearing

The WSH Master Facilities Plan public hearing on was held on 7/27/2022 at 9am. Due to technical difficulties, the Hearing Examiner has left the record open through August 5, 2022 at 5pm. Any individual wishing to make public comment regarding the Master Facilities plan may do so by submitting comments via this website or emailing [email protected] by 5pm on August 5, 2022. All comments will be forwarded onto the hearing examiner and become part of the public hearing record.  

The comment period is now closed. Thank you to all who submitted comments!

Public Hearing Technical Difficulties

Beginning at 23:38 through 24:50 the audio is muted – during this time, Ms. Jenise Gogan from DSHS was introduced, sworn in by the Hearing Examiner and described her role in the department as the Director of Community Transitions at DSHS.

When the slide changes to the description of forensic services, Ms. Gorgin discussed the differences between competency restoration and not guilty by reason of insanity as detailed in the slide. Ms. Gorgin mentioned that forensic patients could be treated in the forensic units at WSH and at the Fort Steilacoom Competency Restoration center.

Ms. Gorgin also defined “competency” as individuals with the ability to participate in the court system, including understanding the roles, the pleas and being able to participate in their own defense. If someone’s competency is restored they may choose to plead Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity and may be adjudicated to serve up to the maximum sentence of the index offense committed to a state hospital. The audio is restored at that time and is sustained for the duration of the public hearing.

Again, due to technical difficulties the Hearing Examiner has extended the public hearing record through August 5, 2022 at 5pm. If you have any additional questions please email [email protected]

July 20, 2022 – Lakewood Staff Report

Lakewood has issued its staff report for the July 27 WSH Master Plan Public Hearing. To view the report and all its attachments in their entirety, please see the documents section of this page.

July 11, 2022 – Hearing Examiner Public Hearing is set for July 27, 2022 at 9:00 a.m.

The City of Lakewood will be holding a hybrid in-person/virtual public hearing in front of the Hearing Examiner to review the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) applications for a new Master Facilities Plan. A staff report will be made available 5 days prior to the public hearing at wshmasterplan.org

HEARING DATE: July 27, 2022

TIME: 9am

LOCATION: City Council Chambers, City of Lakewood, 6000 Main Street, Lakewood, WA  98499

ZOOM OPTION: (https://us06web.zoom.us/j/85760310320?pwd=ZHRBMURpQ3BrSzl1MW9oemtXSmZoUT09)

Passcode: 099326   or DIAL IN: +1 253 215 8782   Webinar ID: 857 6031 0320    Passcode: 099326

PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD: Written Comments must be submitted by 5 P.M. July 26, 2022. Submit comments online at https://wshmasterplan.org or by email to [email protected].   

APPLICATION NUMBER AND NAME:  LU-20-00027 Western State Hospital Master Facilities Plan;

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The State Department of Social and Health Services has proposed a complete reconstruction of Western State Hospital and its campus. The proposed master plan update proposes an expansion of the hospital capacity including:

1.       A new 350-bed forensic hospital on the property. This will require the demolition of several existing buildings on site.

2.       A new 18-bed residential cottage at the Child Study and Treatment Center.

3.       A new community residential treatment facility (RTF) of 48 beds, contingent on completion of a parallel study to site community facilities throughout the region.

Long term, the state’s goal is to transition the hospital to serve primarily forensic patients (those who have been processed through the criminal justice system) and fewer civil commitment patients, which make up the majority of the approximately 850 patients on site today.

To support the new buildings, infrastructure and circulation improvements are also included in the proposal.

PROJECT LOCATION:  9601 Steilacoom Blvd SW (APN#0220283026; -027; 0220321007; 0220321022)            

ZONING:    Public Institutional (PI)

PERMIT APPLICATION DATE:  February 14, 2020

DATE APPLICATION DEEMED COMPLETE:  May 26, 2020

ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW: The City of Lakewood issued an MDNS on June 6, 2022

OTHER PERMITS/PLANS WHICH MAY BE REQUIRED: Design Review, Building Permits, Plumbing/ Mechanical Permits, Electrical Permits by L & I, Site Development Permits, Right-of-Way Permit, Tree Removal Permit, Water Main Extension, Sanitary Sewer Extension.

PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD:  Written Comments must be submitted by 5 P.M. July 26, 2022

All persons may provide written comments about the proposal to the City of Lakewood Community and Economic Development Department at 6000 Main Street SW, Lakewood, WA. 98499, online at https://wshmasterplan.org or by email to [email protected].   

Individuals who wish to testify at the public hearing may do so in person or via zoom    (https://us06web.zoom.us/j/85760310320?pwd=ZHRBMURpQ3BrSzl1MW9oemtXSmZoUT09)

Passcode: 099326   or DIAL IN: +1 253 215 8782   Webinar ID: 857 6031 0320    Passcode: 099326

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Applicant: Bob Hubenthal, DSHS (all questions regarding the application should be forwarded to City staff below)

City: Courtney Brunell, Planning Manager,6000 Main Street SW, Lakewood, WA 98499. Contact: (253) 983-7839 or [email protected]

June 6, 2022 – The City of Lakewood has issued its SEPA Determination

June 6, 2022 Update:

The City of Lakewood has issued its SEPA Determination. View the documents by clicking the links below.

April 25, 2022 – DSHS has submitted updated WSH Master Plan documents to the City of Lakewood for review

DSHS has submitted updated master plan documents to the City of Lakewood for review, including responses to City questions and an updated SEPA Checklist.

The State Department of Social and Health Services has proposed a complete reconstruction of Western State Hospital and its campus. The proposed master plan update proposes an expansion of the hospital capacity including:

  • A new 350-bed forensic hospital on the property. This will require the demolition of several existing buildings on site.
  • A new 18-bed residential cottage at the Child Study and Treatment Center.
  • A new community residential treatment facility (RTF) of 48 beds, contingent on completion of a parallel study to site community facilities throughout the region.

Long term, the state’s goal is to transition the hospital to serve primarily forensic patients (those who have been processed through the criminal justice system) and fewer civil commitment patients, which make up the majority of the approximately 850 patients on site today.

To support the new buildings, infrastructure and circulation improvements are also included in the proposal.

December, 2021 – DSHS WSH Master Plan proposal not yet accepted by Lakewood. Acceptance of the plan is pending receipt of a comprehensive resubmittal.

In December 2021, DSHS proposed to submit a revised site plan; however, this revision did not include responses to the City’s questions in the correction letter provided to them in August 2021.  Given that, the City communicated to DSHS that its revised site plan (474 pages) would not be accepted until the City is provided a comprehensive resubmittal. 

DSHS has responded that they would address the City’s questions from August 2021’s correction letter and resubmit. This resubmittal is expected by the end of February 2022.

The questions from the correction letter for DSHS to address are:   

  • What is the criteria for transitioning a patient out of Western State Hospital and into an alternative residential setting?
  • What is the projected schedule to relocate Western State Hospital patients to other residential settings?
  • Is the relocation process already underway? What happens if there are not sufficient facilities to relocate Western State Hospital patients?
  • In the last three-years, 2019 through 2021, how many former Western State Hospital patients transitioned into alternative treatment facilities, including essential service facilities and/or adult family homes in the City of Lakewood?
  • Likewise, in the last three-years, 2019 through 2021, how many former Western State Hospital patients transitioned into alternative treatment facilities, including essential service facilities and/or adult family homes in incorporated Pierce County cities (minus Lakewood), and unincorporated Pierce County?

Maps & Images

Overhead view of Western State Hospital
Overhead view of Western State Hospital
Western State Hospital

Public Comment Questions & Answers

Several public comment periods have been held regarding these plans. The following Q&A responds to common public concerns.

Will the total number of patients on campus increase? 

The bed count at Western State Hospital is planned to reduce from 922 beds (2019) to 816 beds (2029) over the next decade. Older facilities would be demolished as this proposed facility is built, so total capacity will not increase. 

How will the patient population change? 

Under a new statewide plan, forensic patients will be treated at the state’s larger mental hospitals, including Western State Hospital in Lakewood. Civil patients will be treated in community-based settings: adult family homes and enhanced services facilities. 

Western State currently treats a mix of civil and forensic patients. Over time, civil patients would transition to community care settings, and Western State Hospital would prioritize forensic patients. 

What is a “forensic patient”? 

A person accused of a crime and found incompetent to stand trial might be committed as a “forensic patient”. A mentally-ill person unable to understand charges against them would be considered incompetent for trial and would committed to Western State Hospital. They would be tried in court once competency is restored. 

Defendants must possess “sufficient present ability to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding and whether he has a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against him.” (Dusky v US; 362 U.S. 402; 1960).  

In Washington, ‘Incompetency’ means a person lacks the capacity to understand the nature of the proceedings against him or her or to assist in his or her own defense as a result of mental disease or defect (RCW 10.77.010). Incompetence may occur during any stage of legal proceedings and “no incompetent person shall be tried, convicted, or sentenced for the commissioner of an offense so long as such incapacity continues.” (RCW 10.77.050).  

At the state hospitals, forensic patients live in locked wards and are not to leave the facility. 

What is a “civil patient”? 

Civil patients are typically committed (sent to a mental health facility) at the direction of a qualified mental health professional. Commitments may be in increments of 14, 90, or 180 days.  

After stabilization through medication and treatment, patients may earn incremental levels of independence, and may eventually make trips away from the facility. No patients considered a danger to themselves or others will be permitted these trips. 

What is the City of Lakewood’s role in this project? 

This is a state project, authorized by the legislature and directed at the state level. 

The City of Lakewood is a “lead agency” under the State Environmental Protection Act (SEPA). The City will review the proposal for environmental and community impacts. As problems are identified, the City may require adjustments to the plan or other mitigations. 

Why is the new hospital planned for Lakewood? 

As an essential public facility under state law (RCW 35.70A.200), the hospital is likely to remain in Lakewood. The RCW requires that within a comprehensive plan, counties and cities must identify and site essential public facilities, including mental health facilities and correctional facilities. 

The Washington State Legislature directed that the new hospital be built on the existing Lakewood campus. The facility has been located in Lakewood since 1871. The current campus is suitable for the hospital, there is a skilled local workforce, and the operation would be very expensive to move elsewhere.  

Although the City has approached DSHS with suggestions of relocation, this would be unlikely. 

What is the timeline for this project? 

Depending on when funding is allocated, the design for the hospital should be complete in spring 2023, and construction should start in summer 2023. Construction might finish between 2027 and 2029 


Documents & Resources

Revised WSH Master Plan Application
Lakewood Hearing Examiner 2022 Public Hearing
Lakewood Hearing Examiner 2022 Final Decision and Reconsideration
Lakewood Staff Report
Lakewood Correction Letters
WSH Master Plan Report Documents:
SEPA Decision Documents:
Public Meetings
Public Comments
Responses to City Questions
News Coverage
WS DOH Facility Summary

Disc Golf Course Information

The Fort Steilacoom N.W. Disc Golf Course is located on the open space to the North of the Western State Hospital campus. The disc golf course is not operated by the City of Lakewood.