About three years ago, David Theisen was broke, jobless and severely depressed in Las Vegas — not a good place to be broke, jobless and severely depressed. When he threatened suicide, he ended up in the Nevada mental health system.
And almost right away, his doctors gave him a bus ticket and sent him to San Francisco, 560 miles away and of course, in a different state. For the relatively reasonable price of an $85 Greyhound ticket, Theisen was now California’s problem.
Theisen (pictured) spoke out in a CNN report that aired yesterday. Though the highly questionable practice of “patient dumping” or as it’s sometimes called, “Greyhound therapy” has been the subject of rumor and speculation for years, no one outside of perhaps a few conspiracy theorists believed it was real.
Theisen is the first former mental psychiatric patient to confirm that, yes, “patient dumping” is real.
“I think it's a fairly common practice. It's known," Theisen, who now lives in a one-room, subsidized apartment in the City By The Bay, told CNN.
San Francisco’s city attorney David Herrera believes him, and says he has the evidence to back up the allegations.
"I think it's reprehensible," said Herrera. “It's been urban myth or urban legend for decades that this kind of conduct was occurring but this is the first instance in which I'm aware where we've been able to document a state supported practice, that was not only encouraged but facilitated by state actors.”
The city has now filed a class action lawsuit against Nevada, accusing the neighboring state of dumping 24 patients in San Francisco over a five-year span, just to save the state the money it would cost to take care of them.
Indeed, an investigation by the Sacramento Bee showing that a single Las vegas psychiatric facility, Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital, has bused out 1,500 patients — dumping at least one on every single state in the contiguous 48.
Portland, Oregon, was another target, receiving 20 "dumped" patients, according to KATU TV there.
"This is a harm to our community that this hospital has caused," said Portland Mental Health Association board member Jason Renaud. "The discharges to California were all unreasonable. People were left on the streets without money and without medicine and that's not a good discharge."
The hospital dumped 500 patients in nearby California alone, according to the paper’s findings. Opposing Views reported on the "dumping" situation in April of this year.
Nevada has been chopping funds for mental health services for the past several years, From 2009 to 2012, the bee found, Rawson-Neal’s rate of shipping out patients to other states rose 66 percent. If they are like Theisen, they are given nothing more than a few snacks for the long bis ride and directions to the nearest homeless shelter in their new hometown.
Watch the CNN report, below.
SOURCES: CNN, KSDK TV, Sacramento Bee, KATU TV