CARSON CITY, Nev. -- Disciplinary action including terminations resulting from the mental health patient dumping is in process, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval announced Monday morning.
Sandoval's press office issued a statement about the incidents – reported in March by the I-Team – alleged to have taken place over a period dating from July 2008 to last month. The statement reads:
"Over the weekend, I reviewed the results of the investigation into patients transported out of state. All individuals who violated release policies have been or will be disciplined. These disciplinary actions include terminations effective today. While the investigation showed the vast majority of patient releases were done correctly, it also revealed policies were not followed by certain individuals. I will continue to evaluate the need for further action if necessary.
"In addition, we have obtained proposals from national experts in the mental health field to provide an objective and comprehensive analysis of our state facilities to ensure that best practices are being implemented and followed. As I have stated before, improperly discharging one patient is one patient too many. It is important to me and all Nevadans that we treat our most vulnerable members of society with dignity and care."
Records obtained by the I-Team reveal that since July of last year, some 2 percent of patients with Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services, were discharged to California, the bulk of them by bus.
But of those patients, the vast majority were California residents with state-issued identification headed home and with confirmed connections on the other end. Those not in that category, according to the state, were going to live with identified family members or friends or had expressed a preference for treatment in California.
A recent state review of patients transported out of state, by bus, showed that over the past five years, there was not a systemic problem. The review found that out of nearly 1,500 transports, 10 occurred in violation of existing policy.
James Brown was one of those 10 patients. Brown, who is schizophrenic, claimed he was put on a bus to Sacramento with only three days of medication and instructions to call 911 when he arrived in California.
While Dr. Tracey Green with the Division of Mental Health and Developmental Services can't comment on the case, she did say, the 10 patients largely involve people with drugs or alcohol problems and were temporarily deemed a threat to themselves or others, as opposed to those suffering from a diagnosed mental illness.
"Once we clear them or they clear, they may not have an underlying diagnosis and they say, 'I have a home, I've never been under mental health services, but I just need help getting home,'" she said.
In the past, those patients were given a bus ticket. Recent policy changes now require all mental health patients who are discharged out of state to travel with a chaperone.