DSHS announces leadership updates for Western State Hospital

The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) has named David L. Holt as interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Western State Hospital. He begins his official capacity in this role July 7, 2018.

Holt is replacing Dr. Marylouise Jones, who announced last week she was departing Western to pursue an opportunity in the private sector. Jones stepped in after former hospital CEO Cheryl Strange was appointed to serve as Secretary for DSHS in September 2017 by Governor Jay Inslee.

Holt received a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Redlands in southern California and a bachelor’s of science from BYU in recreation therapy. He has over 35 years working in mental health, 28 of which were with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ hospital system throughout southern California. He has been the Chief Operating Officer at Western State Hospital since December 2015.

Holt is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE). He taught master’s-level courses in health administration and business administration for 17 years as adjunct faculty at five southern California universities, including the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA Extension); Loma Linda University School of Public Health, Loma Linda, California; University of California, Riverside; La Sierra University, Riverside; and the University of Phoenix.

In addition to Holt’s appointment as the interim CEO, DSHS has also permanently appointed Dr. Katherine Raymer to the position of Chief Medical Officer for WSH.

“We are extremely lucky to have both Dave Holt and Dr. Raymer at Western,” said Ken Taylor, Assistant Secretary for the agency’s Behavioral Health Administration, which oversees the hospital. “Their dedication and knowledge will be drawn upon as we work towards turning Western into a Forensic Center of Excellence and modernize and transform mental health in Washington state.”

Raymer, who has been a ward psychiatrist at WSH since June 2017, has been in the position as interim CMO since January 2018. She took the helm after the departure of Dr. James Polo, who left the hospital to become the health medical director for Regence Blue Shield serving Washington, Oregon, Utah and Idaho.

Throughout her career, she has supervised medical students, residents and fellows in inpatient and outpatient psychiatry and primary care.

Raymer earned her undergraduate degree in psychology with highest honors from the University of Louisville. She then earned her medical degree from the university’s school of medicine.

Last month, Holt and Raymer were part of the team from Western State Hospital who met with Governor Jay Inslee on his plan to transform how and where people with mental illness are treated in our state. The five-year plan includes moving the treatment of civil patients from Eastern and Western state hospitals into locations in the community and having only forensic beds at the two state facilities.

DSHS will continue its recruitment for a permanent CEO at the hospital.