Vegas patient dumping victim: 'We are being thrown away' - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Vegas patient dumping victim: 'We are being thrown away like trash'

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LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

A former patient of a Las Vegas mental facility told FOX5 she almost took her own life after she was bused to California with no food, no medication and no help. She's one of nearly 1,500 victims in Nevada's "patient dumping" scandal that has put a spotlight on how the state treats the mentally ill.

Tina Schmidt said the practice of "patient dumping" happened to her not once but twice at Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital.

"They don't realize we're people too," said Schmidt. "We have a heart. It hurts because we feel like we are being thrown away like trash."

Schmidt got emotional recalling her treatment at Rawson-Neal. She was admitted in 2004 for attempted suicide and depression. Schmidt said the hospital bused and left her in San Diego because it didn't have enough resources. She didn't know anyone there.

"They act like they just don't care," said Schmidt. "It's like 'You're not my problem. I don't want to deal with you. Let's just send you someplace else.'"

Schmidt said it happened again when she returned in 2008. Last month, the Sacramento Bee revealed as many as 1,500 patients were improperly discharged from the state-run hospital.

This week Gov. Brian Sandoval defended Rawson-Neal and said, "It is not the policy of the state of Nevada to engage in 'patient dumping.'"

The state is now requiring chaperones for patients bused out of state.

"It's where are they being escorted to," said Dr. Robert Horne, of the Las Vegas Psychiatric Society. "You also need to make sure that they have appointments for mental health care and housing."

Horne told FOX5 he's heard from other physicians "patient dumping" at Rawson-Neal has been happening far more than five years.

"Even if they were to apologize to me, that's a little too late," said Schmidt. "It took two more attempted suicides for someone to finally step up and say this girl needs help."

Schmidt currently lives off disability. She is receiving help from Mojave Adult Family Services.

The State Department of Health and Human Services said two medical staff and the hospital administrator must now review and approve transportation requests. Two staff members from Rawson-Neal were disciplined following an investigation.

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