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Former Pres. Barack Obama cautioned Democrats to be more moderate, and incumbent Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards wins over Trump-backed Republican opponent.

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A Question of Safety at WA's Mental Hospitals

December 4, 2006

Lakewood, WA - Working in Washington's mental health hospitals can be a health hazard for the staff, and they're asking state lawmakers for help. A recent report from the Washington Department of Labor and Industries shows patient assaults against staff at Western State Hospital in Lakewood have increased in severity and number for the third straight year. It also faults the state for not implementing safety recommendations made in previous studies. Tim Welch, with the Washington Federation of State Employees, points out an easy solution.

"The root cause is that there just aren't enough staff on the wards and that leads to a dangerous situation."

Welch notes that thousands of workers have been injured over the past decade.

"They need to implement recommendations that have been made over and over in a number of official reports over the years. The key thing is just to upgrade staffing, have it at adequate levels. "

At just one state hospital, Welch reports more than 500 incidents of assaults on staff this year. He's hoping the Legislature will increase staffing levels in both state hospitals. The Washington Department of Human Services says a tight budget will make that difficult.

Chris Thomas/Eric Mack, Public News Service - WA