Las Vegas Sun

April 15, 2014

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Sandoval: Reported conduct at psychiatric hospital is ‘indefensible’

Brian Sandoval

Brian Sandoval

CARSON CITY — Gov. Brian Sandoval is creating a council to examine the state’s mental health system after a newspaper reported that names of patients bused from a Las Vegas hospital matched those arrested in other states.

The Sacramento Bee’s investigation found receipts for one-way Greyhound tickets that listed the names of more than 1,000 people over the past three years.

The tickets were given to mentally ill men and women shortly after they arrived at Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas. More than 325 of the patients boarded buses to California.

The newspaper found passenger names in criminal databases across the nation for arrests involving murder, assault, sex crimes, vagrancy, vandalism and other violations. Many of the crimes involved repeated offenses for minor violations often associated with homelessness.

The newspaper reported that one former patient stabbed a person to death in Iowa and another detonated a bomb in a grocery store in Tennessee.

The newspaper’s analysis also found more than 50 matches between names of mental patients bused out of Nevada and suspects facing criminal charges in Las Vegas. In most cases, proceedings in those cases were stopped cold and judges issued bench warrants for arrests of the suspects soon after the patients were bused.

Sandoval said he was appalled by the report.

In a statement released from his office today, Sandoval said an investigation is underway “and those responsible will be held accountable.”

The governor is establishing a council of legislators, law enforcement and mental health professionals to identify and address mental health needs in the state.

The council, whose members will be named later, is apparently in addition to the state Mental Health Commission.

“This type of conduct is indefensible,” Sandoval said.

The Rawson-Neal hospital has been a trouble spot for the Sandoval administration.

The Sacramento newspaper previously disclosed that psychiatric patients were being bused from Las Vegas to other states without an adequate plan for further treatment.

The state conducted an investigation and there were dismissals and other disciplinary actions, but the persons invovled were not identified.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid threatened to withhold Medicare payments for patients at Rawson-Neal unless there were improvements.

In response, the state hired additional psychiatrists and other personnel.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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