SF accuses Nevada of psych ‘patient dumping’


If you’ve ever taken Greyhound or any other long-haul bus line, then you’re fully aware: Not all of the passengers are always playing with a full deck.

Of course, mental illness is a serious matter and no joke.

But, according to the Sacramento Bee, that hasn’t stopped the State of Nevada from loading mental hospital dischargees onto Greyhound buses and dispatching them all over the country, including about 30 to San Francisco.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced on Monday a formal investigation into allegations that the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services bused about 1,500 patients from Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas to locations around the country.

The Bee examined receipts from Greyhound bus trips to determine nearly 500 patients from Rawson-Neal were bused to California between July 2008 and March 2013.

About 30 are believed to have ended up in San Francisco, including at least two in the past year that showed up in The City “without a plan, without a relative,” Director of Behavioral¬†Health Services¬†Jo Robinson told The Bee:

“We’re fine with taking people if they call and we make arrangements and make sure that everything is OK for the individual … But a bus ticket with no contact, no clinic receptor, anything, it’s really not appropriate.”

The agency that oversees Rawson-Neal utilizes a policy to discharge patients back to their “home communities.” Staff are supposed to confirm a patient has lodging and a support structure in place at his or her destination.

But mental health agencies contacted by The Bee said busing patients out of their original area is rare, and that putting a freshly-discharged mental patient on a bus is risky and not a standard practice.

Stuart Ghertner, former director of Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services, told The Bee he wasn’t aware of the practice during his tenure, but that:

“I’m embarrassed to say that this practice was going on to this degree under my leadership. … I had no idea. It just never came up.”

Jesse Garnier
Jesse Garnier is the editor and founder of SFBay. A Mission District native, he also teaches journalism as associate professor at San Francisco State University.

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