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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Nevada Sends S.F. Trove of Public Records Related to "Patient Dumping"

Posted By on Wed, May 1, 2013 at 4:35 PM

  • City Attorney Dennis Herrera

To many Californians, perhaps the only thing more outrageous than the idea of Nevada dumping hundreds of mentally ill patients into the Golden State is the idea that Nevada's Governor would have the audacity to deny it.

But last week, Gov. Brian Sandoval did just that, acknowledging no more than one instance of the state-run Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital improperly discharging a patient. City Attorney Dennis Herrera, though, is not buying it -- his office launched an investigation into the matter.

And now he may have some of the documents necessary to prove his case.

Late last week, Nevada's Attorney General Catherine Cortex Masto responded to Herrera's public records requests with a trove of documents, including nearly 400 pages of Greyhound Bus invoices and scores more detailing potentially improper discharges dating back to July 2008.

See Also: Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval Denies Dumping More Than One Patient From Psych Hospital

City Attorney Says "Patient Dumping" Is a Problem for San Francisco

The documents cover five general areas:

  • The records provided to the Sacramento Bee, which first broke the story about Nevada's practice of "patient dumping."
  • The documents related to "challenged" discharges, "specifically any discharges challenged on the basis of inadequate discharge planning."
  • Copies of licenses for Nevada's mental health facilities.
  • Copies of citations levied against the Nevada's mental health facilities.
  • Documents showing the sources of funding for Nevada's mental health services.

Hererra's investigation seeks to discover the extent of Nevada's patient dumping. The Bee's investigation found that Rawson-Neal bought bus tickets for more than 1,500 mentally ill patients over the past five years. Around one-third of those buses went to California, including 36 to San Francisco. But Nevada officials have maintained that nearly all of those discharges were appropriate -- Sandoval admits to only one confirmed improper discharge, for which two hospital employees were fired.

The Bee reported on one specific case in March -- that of a disoriented man found in a Sacramento homeless service complex:

He carried his discharge papers from the Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services psychiatric hospital and a schedule detailing his 15-hour bus ride from Las Vegas.

The medical discharge papers, obtained by The Bee, ordered that Brown be taken "to the Greyhound bus station by taxi with 3 day supply of medication," including one drug to treat schizophrenia and another for depression.

Brown told Loaves staffers that he and four other patients were sent to the Las Vegas mental hospital a few weeks ago, after their group home shut down. Simones said Brown told her that, upon discharge from the hospital, he was given a bus ticket to Sacramento and told to call 911 when he arrived. Instead, he went to a local police station. She said he told her his four former housemates were shipped to other California cities.

And, as Reuters reported last week, "San Francisco health director Barbara Garcia said outreach workers in the past year identified two psychiatric patients who arrived in the city on buses after being discharged from Rawson-Neal with neither relatives nor treatment plans awaiting them in San Francisco."

Herrera's public records query also included requests for documents showing that California approved to accept any of Nevada's mental health patients or agreed to exchange any patients with Nevada. Masto's response noted that none of those documents existed.

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Albert Samaha


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