Herrera: SF Spent $500K Caring For Patients Dumped By Nevada Mental Hospital

Allegations that a Nevada state psychiatric hospital improperly sent hundreds of mental health patients to California cities by bus have prompted San Francisco’s city attorney today to vow to sue the state to recover costs to the city for the patients’ medical care.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera today sent a letter to Nevada state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto informing her of his intent to file a lawsuit over the alleged “patient dumping” by the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas.

Herrera wrote in the letter that his office has found nearly 500 patients were bused from the Nevada hospital to various California cities since April 2008, including 24 to San Francisco.

Of those 24, 20 required emergency medical care within a short time after their arrival, according to the city attorney.

Herrera wrote that San Francisco has spent nearly $500,000 on medical care and housing for those patients, all of whom were homeless and suffering from mental illnesses.

He wrote that the busing practices were “inhumane and unacceptable,” noting that they were allegedly transported without escorts, without adequate medication or food and without arrangements for someone to receive them at their destination.

Along with recouping costs to the city, Herrera wrote that he also plans to secure a court injunction barring Nevada officials from continuing to transfer patients into California without prior arrangements for their care.

“It’s my hope that our investigation and possible class action will send a strong message to public health facilities nationwide that there is a price to pay for such inhumane treatment in the future,” Herrera said in a statement.

After Herrera sent initial inquiries about the case to Nevada state officials in April, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval issued a statement saying “disciplinary actions have been taken and a corrective plan of action was put in place” at the hospital.

The changes would “provide additional oversight to ensure that discharge and transportation policies are followed correctly,” Sandoval said.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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