Patient dumping to Sacramento is growing worse. A 48-year old male mental patient had been living in a group home with several other mental patients in Las Vegas. He had never been in Sacramento and had no relatives or contacts here. But when the group home for mental patients closed down, instead of being given choices of other group homes to move into or living on his own or with others in Las Vegas where he was born, he was sent off to a Las Vegas mental hospital.
He was not sent to another group home or given an independent room and board situation or even his own studio apartment. No, he was shuffled off to a mental hospital even though he was an outpatient on medication living at a group home. It was not due to him that the group home closed down. So why was he sent to a mental hospital? And there was no chance to have the five mental patients bond and become roommates by renting a house or apartment together and supporting one another in a group setting, perhaps due to their individual mental, financial, or medical issues.
What happened there was that the mental hospital discharged him with papers and medicine to last him three days, and put him in a taxi with directions to drop him off at the bus depot so he could get on a bus to Sacramento, since that's where the hospital told him to go and bought him a ticket to Sacramento. It's known as bus therapy, where the patient is dumped to a strange city with no money, no contacts, and told to call '911' when he arrived in Sacramento. The other four housemates from the group home in Las Vegas were given bus tickets to different cities in California.
The man went to a local police station when he got off the bus in Sacramento instead of just calling '911' since he didn't have an emergency crisis that needed police intervention. The police took him to Loaves and Fishes, frightened and not knowing where to go next. He had just gotten off a 15-hour bus ride from Las Vegas, carrying his medical discharge papers. The discharge papers noted he had a three-day supply of medication for schizophrenia and depression. Check out the March 5, 2013 Sacramento Bee article by Cynthia Hubert, "Federal probe sought of alleged 'dumping' of mental patient in Sacramento."
His discharge papers came from the Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services psychiatric hospital and a schedule detailing his 15-hour bus ride from Las Vegas. At Loaves and Fishes, he didn't get a place to sleep. Instead all he received from Loaves and Fishes was bus fare to UC Davis Medical Center. But since no volunteer traveled with him to make sure he knew that across the street from the UC Davis Medical Center is the Sacramento County Mental Health Treatment Center. So there was no one who had the time or the permission to go with him and make sure someone helped him find a place to rest after that 15-hour bus ride from Las Vegas.
The big issue is patient dumping in Sacramento from other states or cities
The big picture is why would Nevada send five mentally ill men to California unless the men had places to go to when they arrived. The 48-year old man 'dumped' in Sacramento had no contacts here and had never been to this city. Why put someone on a bus to any given city unless arrangements are made with a relative, friend, or some type of group home that would take in a patient so he had a place to sleep and knew where to obtain food? The legal issue is about interstate bus therapy. Who should investigate?
The mental hospital from which he was discharged in Nevada is certified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and accredited by the federal Joint Commission. Hospitals that violate regulations governing those programs risk losing critical federal funding, reports the Sacramento Bee article. Who will speak for the patient's civil rights and safety?
Patient dumping is an increasing problem when it comes to those with no income resources or the poor in general
Mental illness that requires medication to control such as schizophrenia is also physical condition. If the patient had a broken leg, would the same be done--to put the patient on a bus to Sacramento or any other city? Or would the patient be directed to a rehabilitation home? Another reason to dump patients is that they're elderly and their money ran out or they don't have insurance that covers hospitalization when they're too sick to live on their own or too poor and too sick. Patient dumping is increasing.
The Sacramento Bee article mentions the case successfully prosecuted by the Los Angeles Public Counsel, regarding a hospital that released an elderly woman still wearing her hospital gown onto the streets of Los Angeles Skid Row. Imagine with the TB outbreak in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles, an elderly woman is dumped from a hospital into the air-polluted, disease-wracked mean streets among the homeless and the sick.
You can look up California law which prohibits patient dumping in the state. Check out the Consumer Law Project. If a bewildered patient taking medicine for mental illness is feeling in control after taking medication, that patient needs to know about various legal channels he or she can learn about to find out what choices and civil rights the person has. No patient needs to be dumped in a strange city with no place to go, no money, and no plan for beyond three days of medication. Where's he going to sleep for the night or eat after a 15-hour bus ride? Did any place he was referred to ever offer him a meal or a place of rest? The reporters can't even locate him to ask him what he needs.
The legal issue is more about whether the state of Nevada transferred the man across state lines. That would push the case under federal civil rights law. But the law is not the human. Where is the man? And who is helping him now that a month has passed since he arrived in Sacramento? The news report has no answer on how he'll be located since last month he disappeared into the streets of Sacramento. The Nevada hospital insists they don't release people without a plan, according to the Sacramento Bee article.
There are media reports of patient dumping in Sacramento in the past. See the articles, "Kaiser pays $61,000 to settle South Sac patient-dumping case," "State to investigate report of mentally ill man dumped in California - March 4, 2013" and the video, "Taxi Drivers Describe Patient Dumping - YouTube." One wonders how many elderly patients have been dumped at daytime public park senior centers? Also see, "Kaiser Permanente Horror stories." If you were to write a poem about patient dumping, you might begin with, "When you're rich, the whole world smiles. But when you skid, you're lost in files."