(LAKEWOOD, Wash.)- – Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has fired the CEO of a state-owned psychiatric hospital one week after two patients — including an alleged murderer — escaped the facility.
Inslee said at a news conference Tuesday that he had relieved Western State Hospital’s Chief Executive Officer Ron Adler of his duties.
“The ongoing issues at Western have justifiably eroded public confidence — and my confidence — regarding the management of this troubled hospital,” Inslee said in a statement provided to ABC News. “Though legislators and I have been working to address the severe staffing shortage at the hospital and restore funding that was cut deeply during the recession, it is clear that a transformative cultural change is needed.”
A representative for the Western State Hospital did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
One of the escapees was Anthony Garver, 28, who was arrested in 2013 for first-degree murder and accused of torturing a woman to death, but found too mentally ill to stand trial. He was captured in the woods near the Washington-Idaho border Friday, two days after he escaped the Lakewood, Washington, facility.
Garver had escaped along with fellow patient Mark Alexander Adams, 58, who was apprehended one day after the escape in Des Moines, Washington, about 30 miles north of Western State Hospital. Adams had been sent to the hospital to receive treatment on a domestic violence arrest.
Inslee said Tuesday that the hospital CEO would be replaced by Cheryl Strange.
“There is a lot of skill, ability and compassion at the hospital to build from and they need a leader to help bring people together to move this hospital forward,” he said in a statement. “Cheryl Strange has worked in mental health for more than 30 years and understands the changes needed to effectively manage the day-to-day operations of the hospital, but just as importantly, she understands the intense need for a change agent who can restore trust and cooperation between hospital staff and hospital leadership.”
The Western State Hospital is one of the West’s largest psychiatric hospitals, with over 800 beds and over 1,800 employees. The facility “provides evaluation and inpatient treatment for individuals with serious or long-term mental illness,” according to its website.
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