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Nevada's mentally ill put on buses and shipped off all over the country, possibly even to Utah

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - A new report is sending shock waves across the mental health industry. The article in the Sacramento Bee says Nevada's primary state psychiatric hospital has been shipping mentally ill patients all across the county, possibly even here to Salt Lake City.
 

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - A new report is sending shock waves across the mental health industry. The article in the Sacramento Bee says Nevada's primary state psychiatric hospital has been shipping mentally ill patients all across the county, possibly even here to Salt Lake City.

Those with mental health issues find themselves on the street and now a new investigation by the Sacramento Bee shows many have been dumped there. The article says the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas has bussed more than 1,500 patients to cities across the country in the last five years.

Doug Thomas is the Assistant Director of Substance Abuse and Mental Health for the State’s Department of Human Services. He told ABC 4 News, "It's not standard of practice no one in our state does it."

No hospital in Utah is known to do it, but they're well aware of the practice. In fact, they call it bus therapy.

“It's very bad practice and very bad care for people that are psychiatrically unstable,” said Thomas. “When you go into in-patient care you have that level of care to help you maintain your functioning, when you discharge you're at risk to go back in."  

The story came to light when one of Rawson-Neal's patients turned up suicidal and confused at a Sacramento homeless services agency. 48-year-old James Flavy Coy Brown was allegedly discharged in February with only a Greyhound bus ticket and three days worth of medication for schizophrenia and depression.

Dr. Coni Kalinowski is the medical director for Mohave Mental Health. She says the transient problem and severe budget cuts have put Nevada’s mental health services in crisis mode.

“So we have a huge number of people who have acute psychiatric needs who need to be in a hospital but absolutely no place for them to go,” said Kalinowksi.

Still Doug Thomas says that does not justify putting sick people on a bus and shipping them off to places they've never been.

"The only reason why any of our hospitals, or providers, would put anyone on a bus would be to return them to family members or a community where they had a support system and often they would go with that person."

An investigation into Rawson-Neal’s practices has begun and as a result a more rigorous review and approval process for patient discharge is now in place.

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