“I’m a victim of patient dumping,” said James Flavey Coy Brown, explaining his ordeal at a press conference on a recent lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on his behalf.
Brown, a longtime sufferer of psychosis—and a beneficiary of Social Security disability—was discharged from Nevada’s Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas. Rawson is notoriously overcrowded; and the lawsuit alleges that, to alleviate patient congestion, the state hospital resorted to sinister means to send away patients that had no place to go.
Allegedly, Mr. Brown, was discharged, given a ticket out-of-state (in his case, to Sacramento), a limited supply of medication, and sent on his way. According to Brown, he arrived in California “homeless, confused and anxious.” After spending 15 hours on the bus and another day wandering the streets on his own, he found his way to another hospital.
Now, the ACLU is accusing the hospital of following this procedure an untold number of times. The organization thinks that over one hundred patients (with insufficient personal funds to make retaining them worth the hospital’s costs) have been sent, via bus, to cities across the region—cities where the patients have no one to turn to and nowhere to live.
“It’s unfortunate that litigation is required to ensure that patients aren’t given ‘Greyhound therapy,’” Allen Lichtenstein—Nevada ACLU general counsel—said. “Simply placing people on buses to destinations where they know no one and have no means of getting necessary psychiatric, medical and even personal care is both improper and illegal.”
While Nevada Health and Human Services disputes these charges—especially the severity of them—even its own records concede that people may have fallen through the cracks. According to state data, of the 31,043 patients admitted to the facility over the last five years, 1,473 were sent out-of-state via bus. And, on record, at least 10 patients were sent away without sufficient documentation as to whether the patient had a support system waiting for him or her upon arrival.