Wednesday, April 24, 2013

California Outrage Grows as Nevada Patient Dumping Scandal Thickens

Despite their best attempts at denial, they just can't avoid it any more. Of course, we're talking about Governor Brian Sandoval (R-Denial), his staff handling mental health care in this state, and the burgeoning patient dumping ("DumpGate"?) scandal. San Francisco launched a probe on Monday, followed very closely by Los Angeles (City) yesterday. So of course, Jon Ralston had to follow up his interview with Mike Willden (Nevada's mental health care director) with an interview with Dan Morain. He's The Sacramento Bee's Senior Editor, and he actually personally traveled to Carson City in search of answers as his paper has been conducting a thorough and riveting investigation into the matter.

(The segment starts at 20:05.)

Governor Brian Sandoval continues to deny any widespread wrongdoing on the part of his administration and Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas. Yet despite Sandoval's continuing denials, questions persist in California. Los Angeles officials continue to ask.

And now, Orange County officials are chiming in as well.

Health care officials have been looking for the woman, whose first name is Monica, but haven’t had any luck, according to Mary Hale, Orange County’s behavioral health director. At least one Nevada patient has previously been found in Orange County.

“This facility in Nevada is doing Greyhound [bus] therapy,” Hale told county supervisors on Tuesday amid growing outrage over the issue statewide.

And there could be many more patients locally who have yet to be identified.

Nevada’s main psychiatric hospital sent 28 patients to Orange County in recent years, according to data collected by the Sacramento Bee. In many of the so-called “patient dumping” cases examined by the paper, Nevada officials simply sent clients on their way without ensuring they received treatment or housing. [...]

Hale also recalled that a former Nevada patient, diagnosed with schizophrenia, was found in Newport Beach “a couple of years ago” and subsequently received treatment.

Hale emphasized that Orange County officials ensure that family members are contacted and outpatient care is arranged for when patients are discharged.

It’s “extremely rare” to ever send a patient out of state without contacting family, Hale added, saying she couldn’t remember that ever happening in Orange County.

Mary Hale testified yesterday at the Orange County Board of Supervisors meeting. They're OC's version of the Clark County Commission... Except that they're all conservative Republicans. Yet with that being said, they nonetheless unanimously approved a two year, $8.7 million for mental health inpatient services at hospitals in Anaheim and Costa Mesa. Jeez, even Orange County Supervisors know it's better to actually solve their problems than attempt to cut corners by dumping them somewhere else!

Oh, and of course, OC Supervisors are joining the growing chorus of outrage over Nevada's "Greyhound Therapy" scandal. San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera still awaits a response from Nevada officials to his request for documents relating to the allegations swirling around Rawson-Neal. KQED's California Report also provided an update on the scandal. And they're finding even more mental health officials in California who are shocked to learn of what Nevada has been doing.

What started as The Sacramento Bee wondering why James Flavy Coy Brown nearly committed suicide in a Sacramento homeless shelter has become a far-reaching investigation by The Bee and other California media outlets into the 1,500+ incidents of Nevada patient dumping. And we'll find out soon if/when California municipalities begin suing Nevada over this. And on top of all this, federal funding for Rawson-Neal is at risk pending a federal investigation into Nevada patient dumping.

We've said this before, and we must say this again today. This didn't have to happen. Nevada could have fully funded mental health care, properly handled the cases of these patients, and probably saved money (considering the likely forthcoming legal action against Rawson-Neal)! What else will it take for Governor Sandoval to learn this lesson? Hell, what will it take for Governor Sandoval to even admit this problem is real?!

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