Las Vegas Sun

October 1, 2014

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Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital still faces hurdles, including federal review

The Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas, criticized for his policy of shipping patients back to their out-of-state homes, still faces several hurdles before it can return to normal.

“We’ve been the most inspected, investigated hospital in the nation in the last 60 days,” says Mike Willden, director of the state Department of Health and Human Services.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is going to conduct a review at an unannounced time to see whether the hospital has corrected its discharge procedures for out-of-state patients.

The agency said it gave voice approval to state officials last week of the plan. But Willden said Monday he has yet to receive any word from the agency.

The inspection is critical to determine whether the hospital will continue to qualify for Medicare and Medicaid payment for its patients.

And the Legislature must approve putting $3 million in a contingency fund that the hospital can draw from in the future to hire more staff. It would have to seek permission from the Interim Finance Committee of the Legislature.

It also plans to ask the finance committee for permission to allocate $1 million from a fund received in a national tobacco settlement.

The federal centers conducted an initial investigation and will return in the next 30 days. The Joint Committee on Accreditation has made two visits to the hospital; there’s been an internal investigation, and the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, at the request of the state, dispatched two physicians to examine the full program.

After the internal investigation, two employees were fired and three were disciplined.

The federal centers cited the hospital for busing patients to their home states without adequate follow-up plans for treatment.

In its correction plan, the state said two doctors must now approve the discharge plans and chaperones will accompany the patients.

In one case cited by the federal agency, the patient was given three days of psychiatric medication with Ensure and snacks for the 15-hour bus ride to Sacramento, where he had no family or contacts. The homeless man was given no plan for subsequent medical care.

The national association, which was paid $50,000 in federal funds, said its consultants found there must be must be more group and individual therapy in addition to the drug medications.

The consultants recommended 20 more employees be hired.

Gov. Brian Sandoval recommended and the budget committees of the Legislature agreed to allocate $2 million for remodeling of the former state hospital in Las Vegas to provide up to 19 beds to handle the overflow at Rawson-Neal.

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