Herrera investigating extent of 'patient dumping' from Nevada 

click to enlarge City Attorney Dennis Herrera is probing allegations that Nevada had a long-standing policy of sending mentally ill patients to California on buses. - S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • S.F. Examiner file photo
  • City Attorney Dennis Herrera is probing allegations that Nevada had a long-standing policy of sending mentally ill patients to California on buses.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera isn’t buying Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval’s assurance that his state only discharged and dumped a single patient from its Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital here in California.

After all, The Sacramento Bee reported that Rawson-Neal bought bus tickets for more than 1,500 mentally ill patients over the past five years, and that around one-third of those buses went to California, including 36 to San Francisco. But Nevada officials have maintained that nearly all of those discharges were appropriate. Sandoval admits to only one confirmed improper discharge, for which two hospital employees were fired.

Last week, Herrera’s office launched an investigation into the matter. And now he may have some of the documents necessary to prove his case.

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortex Masto responded to Herrera’s public-records requests with a trove of documents, including nearly 400 pages of Greyhound bus invoices and scores more detailing potentially improper discharges dating back to July 2008.

The documents cover five general areas:

  • Records provided to The Bee, which first broke the story about Nevada’s practice of “patient dumping.”
  • Documents related to “challenged” discharges, “specifically any discharges challenged on the basis of inadequate discharge planning.”
  • Copies of licenses for Nevada’s mental health facilities.
  • Copies of citations levied against Nevada’s mental health facilities.
  • Documents showing the sources of funding for Nevada’s mental health services.


Hererra’s investigation seeks to discover the extent of Nevada’s patient dumping.

The Bee reported on one specific case in March, that of a disoriented man found in a Sacramento homeless service complex, who claimed that “he was given a bus ticket to Sacramento and told to call 911 when he arrived.”

However, last week Reuters reported that, “San Francisco health Director Barbara Garcia said outreach workers in the past year identified two psychiatric patients who arrived in The City on buses after being discharged from
Rawson-Neal with neither relatives nor treatment plans awaiting them in San Francisco.”

Herrera’s public-records query also included requests for documents showing that California approved to accept any of Nevada’s mental health patients or agreed to exchange any patients with Nevada.

Masto’s response noted that none of those documents existed.


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