Former nurse speaks out on 'patient dumping' allegations
An investigation alleges more than 1,500 patients were shipped out from the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital. (Elizabeth Watts/FOX5)
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -
Investigations into allegations that Nevada mental health patients at a Las Vegas-area facility were put on buses and shipped off to other states are starting to gain national attention.
The city of San Francisco has been joined by Los Angeles in looking into the matter. San Francisco has threatened to sue if the allegations are found to be true.
FOX5 spoke with a former employee of that facility and the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, who said the allegations are blown out of proportion.
A nurse who worked at Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital for more than four years told FOX5 that the hospital transported patients across state lines to a place where they had no shelter and frequently no one waiting for them.
"Finding out, ‘Oh, he is originally from California. Do they have family there? We do not know. Give [him or her] a bus ticket.' So the patient is discharged from the hospital to make the bed available," a former Rawson-Neal nurse who wished to remain anonymous explained to FOX5.
Originally, this nurse said patients were given a bus ticket and discharged on their own, but many of the patients wound up back at Rawson-Neal.
"The patient, they found out, is making money out of the ticket. They sell it out there [Las Vegas Greyhound bus station]. Then the patient gets to buy their drugs or alcohol," the former nurse said.
So to fix that problem, FOX5's source said the patients were put in a state vehicle and driven to the downtown Greyhound Bus station, where a hospital employee made sure they actually got on the bus.
The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services said 1,500 patients received transportation assistance over five years. However, the state organization added that very few patients had no family or housing waiting for them once they arrived in other states.
Currently, that organization is reviewing each case to see if there are more cases where their transportation policy wasn't followed.
The former nurse who talked to FOX5 said there will be more cases discovered in which patients were dumped off in other states with no one waiting for them.
Our nurse also said current employees are being told to keep quiet.
"The state can do what they want to do, [those employees] can be fired," she said.
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