Las Vegas CBS KXNT — Nevada officials are fending off accusations of “patient dumping” after a newspaper report tracing mental patients from the Rawson-Neal psychiatric hospital in Las Vegas to various cities in California. The Sacramento Bee documented the release 1,500 patients, about a third of whom were sent by bus to Los Angeles and San Diego Counties, and to Sacramento.
Mental health policy advocate Ron Honberg told KXNT states have engaged in the practice to varying degrees over time.
“Historically, there was a practice, ironically, known as ‘Greyhound therapy’,” said Honberg, who is a policy director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Some jurisdictions ran programs where they bought bus tickets for patients and sent them home to family, Honberg said. But in other cases, the patients were sent packing without a specific destination.
States might be more inclined to engage in patient dumping when mental health budgets are tight, he said.
“Once the person goes out of jurisdiction, it’s no longer the state’s responsibility to provide treatment.”
Nevada Department of Health and Human Services Director Mike Willden denied the state of Nevada is “patient dumping” due to budget cuts, according to the Associated Press.
Governor Brian Sandoval issued a statement saying he takes the questions seriously. Sandoval has been briefed, and has asked for more information.