Thursday, August 8, 2013

Falling Through the Cracks

Over time, it's become a familiar story. We've become all too familiar with the many tragic stories from Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital. And now, Nevada is beginning to pay the price of allowing all the patient dumping from there.

But now, we're finding out Rawson-Neal may not be alone. Today, we learned of Clark County public defenders' law suit against the Lake's Crossing Psychiatric Hospital in Sparks.

The Clark County public defender’s office filed the lawsuit in June against Lake’s Crossing Center in Sparks, saying inmates on the waiting list are spending an average of 80 days in jails without proper treatment and with their legal cases on hold.

“Incompetent detainees have routinely spent weeks and, in most cases, months, at detention facilities where the conditions are punitive and no prompt restorative treatment is available,” the lawsuit alleges.

The state must respond to the lawsuit by Aug. 26, according to Nevada Health and Human Services spokeswoman Mary Woods. In the meantime, the state is working to meet demand by adding 10 beds to the Dini-Townsend building — on the same campus as Lake’s Crossing — by November.

Mentally ill inmates are waiting 11 times longer for admission than they're supposed to. And as a result, their criminal cases are stuck in legal limbo. And to make matters worse, this is a problem that should have been resolved when the state settled another law suit in 2008.

Yet again, the State of Nevada decided to be penny wise and pound foolish. By not investing in basic mental health care and public infrastructure, the state is now in a world of constant legal trouble. Rawson-Neal is already being pummeled with law suits as the federal government continues to investigate the troubled mental health treatment hospital in Las Vegas. Even accreditation is now at stake there.

And now, it's not just Rawson-Neal. Cracks are appearing throughout the system. And far too many people are falling through those cracks. There's a financial toll to pay. And of course, there's a real human toll as well.

When will the powers that be (in Carson City) learn?

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