I-Team: Council Aims to Improve Mental Health Care in Nevada - 8 News NOW

I-Team: Council Aims to Improve Mental Health Care in Nevada

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LAS VEGAS -- Twenty of Nevada's most powerful political, business and law enforcement leaders met for the first time Wednesday to discuss Nevada's broken mental healthcare system.

Gov. Brian Sandoval formed the new Behavioral Health Council after allegations that the state psychiatric hospital was busing patients out of state.

In light of federal investigations and lawsuits, everybody on the Behavioral Health Council agrees that Nevada's mental health hospitals need fixing, despite an entire day of listing a catalog of problems, there was little talk about how much it will cost to fix the system.

University Medical Center's Doctor Dale Carrison, one of only two medical doctors on the council, points out state lawmakers cut more than $80 million in funding these past years.

"The system was broken before, because even when we had the money, the system still wasn't working the way that it should," Dr. Carrison said.

Dr. Carrison told the council how his emergency room doctors and nurses don't have the psychology training to handle the dozens of mentally ill patients filling their beds every day.

The council has a bipartisan mix of state lawmakers, hospital managers and local law enforcement chiefs. Gov. Sandoval appointed a psychologist from Arizona to lead the council.

Doctor Joel Dvoskin already wrote a highly positive consulting report about conditions at Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital

"I don't know that we're going to likely to be saying you need to spend $200 million on this and $8 million on that. I think we're going to be making recommendations on priorities," Dr. Dvoskin said.

Those priorities include getting the Clark County Detention Center out of the business of diagnosing the majority of Las Vegas' mentally ill.

The failure of the Rawson-Neal mental health walk-in clinic to meet federal guidelines left a hole in the state's safety net.

The lack of employees at the state psychiatric hospital to care for the mentally ill is another main priority.

In the end, the question remains: what can this council accomplish?

They aim to come up with a list of those priorities for Gov. Sandoval by their May deadline.

After that, it is up to the governor and the Legislature next year to see if they can do the math and find the will to pay for these mental health improvements.

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