This morning, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera launched an investigation into Nevada's nefarious practice of "patient dumping." The Sacramento Bee reported earlier this month that the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services has been busing mentally ill patients to other cities, including San Francisco, where they're abandoning them without food, shelter, or proper medical care.
The Bee revealed that a single state psychiatric hospital in Las Vegas had paid for the transportation of more than 1,500 patients in the past five years. One patient, James Flavy Coy Brown, told The Bee that he was given a one-way Greyhound ticket to Sacramento, as well as snacks and only three days of medication. His doctor advised him to call 911 when he landed in Sacramento where he would receive "excellent health care and more benefits than you could ever get in Nevada."
California seems to have been a popular destination for the wrongfully discharged patients -- one-third of the 1,500 Las Vegas patients were sent to the Golden State, and at least 36 of them were brought to San Francisco.
Herrera believes this is bad news for the city. "Assuming the reports are true, Nevada's practice of psychiatric 'patient dumping' is shockingly inhumane and illegal," he said. "We intend to investigate these reports thoroughly, and I am inviting input from providers of services to San Francisco's homeless, who may be willing to volunteer evidence and testimony to assist the city in a potential civil action."
Unfortunately, Herrera can't represent the individuals who where discarded in San Francisco, but his office is working to pair former Nevada patients with local legal counsel. Meanwhile, Herrera is focusing his efforts on suing the state of Nevada for any costs or damages the city has accrued by providing for the displaced patients.
So, if you recently met someone who says they were bussed from Las Vegas to San Francisco with a pocket full of gummy worms and psychiatric medication, please call the City Attorney's Office at 415-554-4253.