Mentally ill man missing in alleged pattern of ‘patient dumping’ by Nevada health officials
A schizophrenic man has gone missing after an instance of alleged “patient dumping” by Nevada state mental health officials. According to a Wednesday report by Las Vegas’ CBS Channel 8, a patient named James Brown was allegedly sent from Rawson-Neal psychiatric hospital in Las Vegas to Sacramento, California with only a one-way bus ticket, three days’ worth of medication and instructions to call 911 for services when he arrived.
A California homeless advocacy group called Loaves and Fishes said that Brown was sent to their state without a destination in a pattern of systematic patient dumping by the state of Nevada. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Brown arrived in Sacramento on Feb. 12 after a 15-hour bus ride with no connections and nowhere to go.
Loaves and Fishes found Brown shelter for the night. The man told social workers that he had been sent to Sacramento against his will, a city where he had never been and knew no one. Joan Burke, advocacy director for the organization said that Brown has since disappeared, but social workers expect him to return to Las Vegas where the man said, “At least I know where the homeless shelters are in Las Vegas.”
“Putting somebody on a bus who indicates a high level of disability and inability to function is reprehensible,” Burke told the Register-Journal. “This gentleman was adamant that he had no connections here.”
Molly Simones, the social worker who interviewed Brown said that the man was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. He was easily disoriented and confused and admitted to hearing voices in his head.
Simones wrote in her report, “These voices told James today that he should either do something to go to jail or should jump off a bridge. James had no desire to come to California.”
In a post-script, she wrote, “James gets lost very easily & had a hard time remembering things.” She noted that he was out of money and confused. Hospital officials put him on the Greyhound with Ensure, snacks and a bus schedule and a vague promise that if he called 911 in Sacramento, he would be taken to an emergency room and admitted to a mental health care facility.
The Channel 8 report said that since July of 2012, some 2 percent of all patients in the care of Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services were discharged to California, most by bus.
The state insists, however, that the vast majority of those patients were California residents bearing state-issued California identification and that Nevada was sending them home to relatives with confirmed connections meeting them at the other end of the trip.
James Brown, however, met none of these criteria, according to medical records. State health officer Dr. Tracey Green said the matter is under investigation.
“We currently have three open investigations, and clearly if there is a policy violation, there will be disciplinary action or policy changes, whatever are the needed actions,” said Green.
The Nevada Division of Mental Health Services has launched an internal investigation and the agency is being reviewed from without by Division of Healthcare Quality and Compliance, and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Lawmakers are set to convene a preliminary hearing to review the matter next week.
Watch video about this story, embedded via CBS Channel 8, below: