Washington State Department of Social and Health Services Home page

WSH -- Public Information Office (PIO)

Services:

  • The Western State Hospital (WSH) Public Information Office (PIO) responds to media requests around the clock and makes appropriate notifications to administrators, headquarters, employees and/or media related to evolving incidents or provides aftermath information.   
  • The WSH PIO networks regularly with other PIOs throughout the local community for the purposes of emergency/disaster planning and joint press releases.  The DSHS Public Affairs Office relies on the WSH PIO to keep the Director informed of potential media events, working jointly to ensure consistent messages and media strategies are developed in anticipation of, or in response to a crisis. 
  • The WSH PIO coordinates with PIOs from local law-enforcement and fire service to ensure press releases and media responses are consistent and symbiotic. 
  • The PIO makes community connections; such as local schools and businesses, to promote educational opportunities that help to reduce stigma associated with mental illness 
  • The PIO also coordinates emergency response plans with community organizations and assists in the development of information-sharing protocols in preparation for response to emergent incidents.  PIO is a member of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) during a disaster or significant event. 

Public Records Requests:

The public information office directs requests for public information to the WSH Public Disclosure office. 

  • The Western State Hospital Public Records/Discovery Coordinator (PR/DC) responds to public records requests from attorneys, other outside entities, patients, patient families, citizens and staff. There are specific legal exemptions for public records, including strict federal and state laws about providing patient records and other patient information.
  • Public records are recorded information, regardless of physical form. The term “public records” applies to any paper, correspondence, form, bound volume, film, magnetic medium, drawing or other document, regardless of form or physical characteristics, that has been created or received by any state agency during the course of public business.

Customer Service:

  • Community Stakeholders
  • Media
  • Fire and Law-Enforcement
  • DSHS Headquarters
  • Legislative Staff
  • WSH Employees
  • WSH Patients and Family Members.

Outcomes and Benefits of the PIO:

  • The Public Information Office will provide the most up-to-date information on current events and/or incident responses to the public, media, stakeholders, legislators and DSHS leadership and Public Affairs Office.
  • The WSH PIO strives to act in a pro-active fashion, rather than a reactive fashion, with a goal of being as responsive as possible and transparent in all requests. 

Current Efforts:

  • The PIO is currently working to improve the public’s website to ensure current, concise and accurate information is accessible to the public.
  • The PIO is the advisor to the WSH Chief Executive Officer.  The CEO will make himself available to community organizations and media entities.  There is a current effort to familiarize media entities with the functions of WSH and how it fits in with the broader Washington State mental health system.  

Community Partnerships:

The WSH PIO works closely with:

  • DSHS Communications Office
  • Lakewood Police Department
  • West Pierce Fire Department
  • Local Business Associations
  • Home Owners Associations
  • Nearby Schools

 

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