Spokane, Washington – Washington’s Western State Hospital faces increased scrutiny after a week in which two mentally ill patients escaped and two others went missing. Officials at the state health agency announced on Saturday that they were enhancing security at Washington’ psychiatric hospitals in the wake of the incidents.
One of the two men who escaped on Wednesday was a patient considered as too mentally ill to face charges for torturing a 20-year-old woman to death in 2013. Anthony Garver was recaptured on Friday and the Department of Corrections has taken custody of him.
As the escapes increased federal scrutiny on Washington’s largest psychiatric facility, the hospital restricted patient movement on the grounds of Western State and outside the facility over the weekend.
Kathy Spears of the state Social and Health Services Department said the patient is being held at the Airway Heights Corrections Center in eastern Washington.
Garver, 28, escaped from Western State Hospital in Lakewood on Wednesday night along with another patient, Mark Alexander Adams. Corrections spokesman Jeremy Barclay said they had been moved to the civil commitment ward after they finished serving their incarceration period at the hospital’s criminal section.
They crawled out a window of a locked, lower-security unit. Adams, 58, was caught on Thursday but it was not until Friday night that authorities recaptured Garver across the state in Spokane.
Four incidents in one week
Officials said that two other patients went missing after taking “unescorted leaves” from the facility during the manhunt. One of them was on an escorted outing on campus and has not been found. Another man had already received approval for discharge and was awaiting community placement but did not return to the hospital from a visit to a fast-food restaurant. He was found on Saturday by Seattle police.
Carla Reyes, assistant secretary for the health agency’s Behavioral Health Administration noted Adam and Garver’s escape was rare, unlike unauthorized leaves, according to a report by Fox News. Still, she said in a statement issued on Saturday that two escapes and two unauthorized leaves in just one week was “unacceptable” and urged officials to immediately take measures to enhance security at the hospital.
Reyes remarked the importance of the safety of the patients, the public and hospital staff. Gov. Jay Inslee also on Saturday expressed concern about the way security had been handled at the hospital and said he expected to see stricter measures to prevent future incidents.
“This incident put the public at risk, the staff at risk and the patients at risk,” Inslee said, as quoted by Fox News. “This raises serious questions once again about the management and operation of this troubled hospital.”
Gunnar, the canine dog who helped find Garver
Spokane sheriff’s spokesman Mark Gregory on Saturday gave much of the credit for Anthony Garver’s capture to Gunnar, a canine officer who found the dangerous patient hiding in the woods near his family home in Spokane.
In 2013, Garver was charged with tying a young woman to her bed with electrical cords. Prosecutors said he slashed the woman’s throat and stabbed her 24 times in the chest.
After Garver escaped on Wednesday night, he bought a bus ticket to Spokane. His father called authorities to report his son had visited him briefly on Thursday.
A troubled hospital
An investigation on safety risks at the hospital was already being conducted by U.S. regulators after a recent patient-on-patient sexual assault and a violent attack on a worker. Authorities released this week a workplace inspection revealing several missteps such as unlocked rooms and unattended objects that patients could easily use as weapons.
Source: Fox News