Workers fired from Nevada hospital accused of 'patient dumping'

Two employees have been fired and three others disciplined at a Las Vegas hospital accused of "patient dumping" -- sending mentally ill patients to other states, including California.

The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday that 10 of roughly 1,500 patients discharged from Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital had been placed on buses within the last five years without "a support system/family/friends/housing at the destination," the Sacramento Bee reported.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said in a statement Monday that "all individuals" who violated policy "have been or will be disciplined."

"While the investigation showed the vast majority of patient releases were done correctly, it also revealed policies were not followed by certain individuals," Sandoval said. "I will continue to evaluate the need for further action if necessary."

Sandoval also said his office had sought proposals from mental health experts "to provide an objective and comprehensive analysis" of the state's facilities.

Multiple agencies have launched inquiries into the Las Vegas hospital after the Bee reported a man had been released from the hospital with a one-way Greyhound ticket to Sacramento. The man was given three days' worth of medication, four bottles of Ensure and what he called "cheesy peanut butter crackers," the newspaper said.

The man was "completely confused" when he arrived at a Sacramento homeless shelter Feb. 13, a staff member told the Bee, and had no money or medication. He also "had no idea why he had been sent to Sacramento."

The Bee then published an investigative report revealing Rawson-Neal had purchased one-way bus tickets for 1,500 discharged patients over five years, sending them across the country. About a third were sent to California, the newspaper said, including more than 200 to Los Angeles County, about 70 to San Diego County and 19 to Sacramento.

Last week, the city attorneys of Los Angeles and San Francisco announced probes into the matter. Federal authorities also took action -- in a letter dated Thursday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services gave Nevada 10 days to correct problems at the hospital.

"If we do not receive an acceptable, timely submission, or if a resurvey finds that the hospital is not complying with any [conditions of participation], we will notify you that we are initiating action to terminate the facility's Medicare provider agreement," the letter read.


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