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Eastern State Hospital Gets Permanent CEO

Department of Social and Health Services

The man who has been running Eastern State Hospital on an interim basis since spring is taking the job permanently.

Mark Kettner took over in April as interim CEO of the state-run mental institution in Medical Lake. He’s worked as an administrator at the hospital since 2014 and took over the top job when the former CEO, Dorothy Sawyer, resigned.

Eastern State sees more than 600 patients a year, according to figures from the Department of Social and Health Services. It and its sister institution, Western State Hospital, have been sanctioned by state courts for providing inadequate care for some patients. But the hospital has kept its accreditation and continues to be certified by the federal office that operates Medicare and Medicaid.

The future of Washington’s larger mental institutions is unclear. Governor Jay Inslee has introduced a plan to transition to a community-based system with more and smaller facilities located within communities. He says the larger facilities, such as Eastern State, should have more defined roles, such as caring for patients other facilities won’t take.

Many legislators expect mental health to be one of the most talked about issues of the upcoming session.