Nursing’s role in solving the state’s mental health crisis will be the top issue at the Washington State Nurses Association’s Nurse Legislative Day on Monday, Feb. 1. With 700 attendees, WSNA hosts the largest lobby day in Olympia.

In his keynote address, Governor Inslee is expected to discuss nursing’s role in helping solve the mental health crisis.

"We want to make sure that we utilize all of the ways that psychiatric nurse practitioners can help meet the clinical needs of our patients at Western State Hospital,” Governor Inslee said.

WSNA, working in partnership with the Association of Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurses, is gaining bipartisan support for its plan to improve access to clinical treatment at Western State Hospital by utilizing Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners to their full scope of practice.

“This is another issue on which WSNA has been a leader,” said Jan Bussert, RN, president of WSNA. “Washington state is facing a mental health care crisis – one that affects nurses and their patients in all settings. Yes, we see it in hospital emergency rooms, but we also experience the lack of mental health services in our public health clinics. And, we see it when we have nowhere to send a patient who needs mental health or behavioral health services.”

WSNA is working with both Governor Inslee and Sen. Andy Hill, chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, to create opportunities for Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners to work in clinical roles and help solve the staffing crisis at Western State.

"Providing effective health care and mental health treatment are critical responsibilities of state government," said Sen. Andy Hill, of Redmond, who serves as the chief budget writer in the Senate. "Problems at Western State Hospital demonstrate the importance of all lawmakers understanding the key role Washington's advanced registered nurse practitioners can play in ensuring access to high-quality treatment for our most vulnerable citizens."

The Association of Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurses will also address this issue at Nurse Legislative Day as part of the panel “What’s at stake in 2016: Legislative Priorities.”

“In this ever-changing mental healthcare environment necessitating more care providers, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners believe that the current exclusionary policy to our working at Western and Eastern State Hospitals is detrimental to the local communities and the state of Washington,” said Anne Koomen, MS, PMHNP, ARNP, president of the Association of Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurses. “We advocate for an inclusive solution that removes the barriers that impede our ability to practice at both Western and Eastern State Hospitals.”

Washington currently licenses 570 Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioners, registered nurses with graduate degrees and the training to assess and diagnose mental health issues, and provide treatment by means of pharmacotherapeutic and psychotherapeutic interventions. Licensed Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners are well prepared and willing to step up and help solve the staffing problem at Western State.

Contacts

Ruth Schubert, Communications, WSNA, (206) 713-7884, rschubert@wsna.org

Jennifer McCausland, Legislative Director, WSNA, (206) 972-8555, jmccausland@wsna.org

David Guidry, Legislative Director, AAPPN, (206) 953-9479

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Washington State Nurses Association is the leading voice and advocate for nurses in Washington state, representing more than 17,000 registered nurses statewide. Facebook/myWSNA @myWSNA.