Nevada Busing Hundreds of Mentally Ill People to Other States

| by Michael Allen
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The state-owned Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada, regularly places mentally ill people on buses and sends them to other states.

At least 1,500 patients have been shipped out of Nevada on Greyhound buses since July of 2008, reports the Sacramento Bee.

The state of Nevada has chosen to cut funding for mental health services and shifted the burden for caring for their residents onto other states.

In 2012, the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital bused out about one patient a day, which added up to 400 patients sent to 176 cities in 45 states.

This bizarre practice came to light when one of the mentally ill people, James Flavy Coy Brown (pictured with his daughter), showed up suicidal at a Sacramento, California, homeless shelter in February, reports

Brown, who suffers from a variety of mood disorders, was put on a bus by the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital without identification or access to his Social Security checks.

Brown stayed in the UC Davis Medical Center's emergency room for three days, until social workers found him temporary housing,

Nevada mental health officials admitted making mistakes regarding Brown's case, but still defend the practice of shipping mentally ill people out on buses.

Last month, Dr. Tracey Green told Nevada lawmakers that the majority of mentally ill patients they're dropping off at the bus station are actually mentally stable and have family members and treatment programs waiting for them in another state.

Which begs the question: If one were mentally stable, why would he or she need a treatment center out of state?

Nevada Health and Human Services Director Michael Willden told Nevada lawmakers that an internal investigation found no pattern of misconduct by the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital. However, the Nevada State Health Division has documented several other examples of when the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital has violated written rules for discharging mentally ill patients. Thus far, no one has been legally held responsible.

This practice of 'patient dumping' was condemned by several health professionals in various states.

"We're fine with taking people if they call, and we make arrangements and make sure that everything is OK for the individual, but a bus ticket with no contact, no clinic receptor, anything, it's really not appropriate," said Jo Robinson, director San Francisco's Behavioral Health Services department.

"Putting someone whose mental illness makes them unable to care for themselves alone on a bus for a long period of time could be absolutely disastrous," said Dorian Kittrell, executive director of the Sacramento County Mental Health Treatment Center.

"Discharging severely mentally ill patients inappropriately is policy in this country," D.J. Jaffe, executive director of Mental Illness Policy Org, told the Sacramento Bee. "But getting rid of them altogether by busing them out of state is, I think, rare. I am shocked by these figures. It seems to be almost routine in Nevada."

Sources: Sacramento Bee and