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July 28, 2014

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Nevada, targeted in ACLU’s patient-dumping suit, cites changes at psychiatric hospital

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Sam Morris

This is the front sign for the Rawson Neal Psychiatric Hospital Tuesday, May 7, 2013.

Responding to a lawsuit by the ACLU, Nevada officials have said they've made changes at the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas in the treatment and transportation of patients out of state.

The state Department of Health and Human Services issued a statement Wednesday saying there have been firings and other discipline on staff for not following the policies to ensure patients had housing and a support system at their destinations when discharged.

The American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of James Flavy Coy Brown, said the hospital discharged patients who still needed psychiatric care but were involuntarily discharged to out-of-state locations where "patients would be unable to obtain proper treatment, care and housing."

The suit, filed Tuesday in federal court in Las Vegas, wants it designated as a class action on behalf of the 1,500 patients who were subjected to this "Greyhound therapy."

Brown was placed on a bus to Sacramento, where he had no family and no follow-up treatment plan. The suit said Brown was "homeless, confused and anxious." He eventually ended up in a psychiatric facility and was then discharged to a group home in Sacramento.

The Nevada department said that it now requires the approval of two doctors before a patient can be discharged and that a chaperone will accompany patients on bus rides.

The department noted it continues to be licensed by the state, certified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and it has held onto its accreditation by the Joint Commission on Accreditation.

The federal centers are planning a backup investigation to see if the hospital has followed its plan of correction.

The suit says Brown and other similar patients "are entitled to punitive and exemplary damages" to serve as an example that "such conduct and such behavior will not be tolerated."

It says damages suffered by Brown and other patients entitle them each to more than $10,000 for their "severe and extreme physical, emotional and psychological harm" suffered.

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