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Western State Hospital CEO to retire in May

April 13, 2021 GMT

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The CEO of Washington state’s largest psychiatric hospital announced Tuesday that he plans to retire next month.

David Holt spent five years at the embattled Western State Hospital, serving as CEO for three of those years, including during the COVID-19 pandemic when 213 workers and 116 patients caught the virus. Three patients died.

“I am incredibly grateful for the time I’ve spent at Western, for the opportunity to work with such a dedicated team and for the chance to support the compassionate care provided to our patients,” Holt said in a message to hospital staff.

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The 857-bed facility in Steilacoom, Washington, lost its certification and federal funding in 2018 after repeatedly failing health and safety inspections. It has also struggled with assaults on staff and patients alike.

Department of Social and Health Services Secretary Cheryl Strange said in a statement that Holt led safety initiatives to reduce assaults by 8.7% in 2020.

Holt’s last day at the hospital will be May 7. An interim CEO will be appointed within the next few days while a search for a permanent replacement is conducted.

“David will truly be missed by the team at DSHS,” said Sean Murphy, Assistant Secretary for DSHS’ Behavioral Health Administration. “He epitomizes servant leadership and a genuine compassion for the patients served by the staff. He leaves an indelible influence on the culture and future of the hospital.”