An NPR member station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Our signal in Bonners Ferry and Omak is seriously impaired due to weather— Learn more here.

Washington Supreme Court Puts Hospital Boarding Decision On Hold

File photo of The Temple of Justice in Olympia, Washington
Aidan Wakely-Mulroney
/
Flickr
File photo of The Temple of Justice in Olympia, Washington

The state of Washington will not have to start discharging severely mentally ill patients starting this week. The Supreme Court Monday put a hold on a recent ruling that says it’s illegal for the state to “board” psychiatric patients in non-psychiatric hospital beds.

File photo of The Temple of Justice in Olympia, Washington
Credit Aidan Wakely-Mulroney / Flickr
/
Flickr
File photo of The Temple of Justice in Olympia, Washington

That ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed on behalf of several psychiatric patients who were involuntarily committed and then held in regular hospital beds. It was supposed to take effect this Wednesday.

But the state, along with mental health advocates, asked the Supreme Court for a 120-day stay. That would theoretically give time to open up 145 new psychiatric beds statewide.

Governor Jay Inslee has approved $30 million in emergency funding to do this. The Supreme Court has now said it will consider the motion for a stay on September 4. In the meantime, the court’s ruling will not go into effect.

State officials have said they want to avoid a situation where patients who pose a threat to themselves or others are released because of a lack of psychiatric beds.

Copyright 2014 Northwest News Network

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."