Former patients file federal lawsuit over ‘patient dumping’ by Rawson-Neal

Riding a Greyhound bus on a two-day trip from Las Vegas to Flint, Michigan, Clorissa Porter didn’t have any food with her.

Her bus ticket was courtesy of officials at the state-run Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas, who covered their patient’s fare after she did a two-day stay at the hospital. Strangers and fellow passengers shared meals with her before she arrived in Michigan with no one there to turn to for help.

The account is contained within the allegations in a federal lawsuit two former patients of the state-run hospital have filed over its practice of “patient dumping” — a practice that gained notoriety in 2013. The lawsuit, filed late Tuesday, seeks class-action status, so any ruling would apply to more than 1,500 former patients of the hospital.

The case’s allegations offer another window into patient dumping, a practice at Rawson-Neal in which officials put mental health patients on Greyhound buses and sent them out of the state on a one-way ticket without a treatment plan or adequate resources. An investigation by the Sacramento Bee first exposed patient dumping, prompting a state probe in 2013, the firings of two Rawson-Neal employees and an overhaul of discharge policies.

“There have been some changes, but we want to make sure that this cannot happen again,” said civil rights attorney Allen Lichtenstein, who is representing the plaintiffs.

The former patients in the lawsuit are Porter, 33, and William Spencer, 51, who were sent against their wishes to Michigan and California, respectively, according to the lawsuit.

Porter was admitted into Rawson-Neal on Jan. 7, 2013, suffering from depression and with a history of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Two days later, she was escorted from the hospital and put on a Greyhound bus to Flint with a four-day supply of medication, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit alleges the defendants had planned for her to get treated at a program in Caro, Michigan, but hadn’t made any arrangements for her to get there from Flint, which is more than an hour’s drive away. Porter arrived in Flint with no money or way to get to the hospital and realized Rawson-Neal officials made no arrangements for her to receive medical care or obtain shelter or other help, the lawsuit contends.

A cousin in Las Vegas wired Porter money for food, and she suffered a mental breakdown and ended up in a hospital that was unable to obtain her records from Rawson-Neal.

Spencer was admitted into Rawson-Neal severely depressed on Aug. 26, 2012. Within weeks, a doctor at the hospital told Spencer he had a one-way Greyhound ticket to Los Angeles and told him he should “call 9-1-1” for help when he was dropped off, the lawsuit alleges. Spencer, who had previously lived in Glendale, told the doctor he didn’t want to leave Las Vegas and return to California, the lawsuit alleges.

The doctor persisted, and on Sept. 20, 2012, Spencer was handed a bus ticket and three days’ worth of depression medication. Between 10 p.m. and midnight that day, he was escorted to a waiting taxi that took him to the bus station. The doctor at Rawson-Neal had told him he would be discharged to a residential aftercare facility in Pasadena, but no arrangements had been made, the lawsuit alleges.

After calling the Pasadena facility, Spencer learned they had not been contacted by Rawson-Neal and had no space, the lawsuit alleges. He quickly became homeless and suffered from panic attacks and anxiety, the lawsuit alleges. Relatives eventually helped him.

The lawsuit names a slew of defendants: Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services, which operates Rawson-Neal; Chelsea Szklany, hospital administrator; Mike Willden, a former director of Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, who is now chief of staff for Gov. Brian Sandoval; and Richard Whitley, administrator of Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health. Other defendants are Rawson-Neal associate medical director Loen Ravin; Kyle Devine, bureau chief of the Nevada Bureau of Health Care Quality and Compliance; Linda White, a statewide psychiatric medical director for Nevada; and psychiatrists Rao Puvvada and Jacob Manjooran.

A spokeswoman for Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services declined to comment, saying they haven’t been served with the lawsuit.

The governor’s office also declined to comment, as did the office of Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt.

The lawsuit seeks an order that would prevent patient dumping in the future, a judgment that the practice violates the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights and punitive damages. The lawsuit also seeks a jury trial.

Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710. Follow @BenBotkin1 on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Local
Construction for new 51s ballpark underway
New home of the Las Vegas 51s is planned to be finished by March 2019 in Summerlin according to team president Don Logan. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Underground home was built as Cold War-era hideaway
The underground house at 3970 Spencer Street is one of the valley’s most unusual homes built 26 feet underground in 1978 by Girard “Jerry” B. Henderson, who, planned to survive the end of the world there.
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Bump stock manufacturers under fire
The Justice Department said last month that it had started the process to amend federal firearms regulations to clarify that federal law defines bump stocks as machine guns.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Longtime Las Vegas attorney John Momot dies at age 74
Criminal defense attorney John Momot, who represented mob figures and even played himself in the movie “Casino,” has died.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
Sir Richard Branson announces purchase of Hard Rock Hotel
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, has acquired the Hard Rock Hotel with partners and plans to turn it into a Virgin-branded property by the end of 2019.
3 Centennial High School students killed in Calif. crash (Full)
Three Centennial High School students were killed Thursday morning in Southern California when their vehicle was struck by a suspected drunken driver while they were enjoying their spring break, according to a family member of one of the victims.
Retail Restroom Sexual Assault Suspect
Las Vegas police are asking for help finding a man they said groped a woman in a south Las Vegas Valley restroom. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
Crime
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser gives update of officer-involved shooting
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser provides an update about an officer-involved shooting at Radwick Drive and Owens Avenue in the northeast Las Vegas on Thursday. A robbery suspect was shot and killed. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
LVMPD Looking For Robbery Suspect
The LVMPD Commercial Robbery Section is attempting to identify the pictured suspect who is responsible for committing robberies to businesses in the southern part of the Las Vegas Valley during the month of May 2018. The suspect enters the business, threatens the employee with a firearm and demands money from the register. The employee complies and the suspect flees the business.
North Las Vegas police are investigating a triple shooting that left one man dead
North Las Vegas police are investigating a triple shooting that left one man dead at 2500 block of Ellis St., on Friday, June 8, 2018. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
1 dead in shooting at southwest Las Vegas home
A dispute between roommates led to the fatal shooting of one man in the backyard of their southwest Las Vegas Valley home on Monday, April 23, 2018. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bump stock manufacturers under fire
The Justice Department said last month that it had started the process to amend federal firearms regulations to clarify that federal law defines bump stocks as machine guns.
Henderson Police Seek Armed Bank Robbery Suspect
This afternoon a male suspect entered the Bank of America, located at 2638 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway, at about 12:40 p.m. As he entered the bank, he pulled a black mask down to conceal his face.The suspect is described as a late-forties to early-fifties white male adult, approximately 5 foot 8 inches to 5 foot 10 inches tall and weighing approximately 160 to 180 pounds He was last seen wearing a dark colored beanie, a grayish blue plaid shirt, dark jeans and dark colored shoes. His head was shaved on the sides and the top of his hair was dark in color. Vehicle was described as possibly a gray 2012-2014 four door Ford Focus. The license plates were covered with black tape. The suspect is considered armed and dangerous. Do not attempt to contact the suspect but call police immediately. Anyone with information is urged to call the Henderson Police Department at 702-267-4911, to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555.
Sunset Park Homicide (update 2)
LVMPD gives update about suspect in homicide at Sunset Park (Blake Apgar)
Sunset Park Homicide (update)
Update from LVMPD on Sunset Park homicide. Releasing suspect's name (Blake Apgar)
Sunset Park Homicide
Police give details about Sunset Park homicide on Sunday, April 15, 2018. (Blake Apgar)
Security guard thwarts mailbox vandals
A security guard at the Covington at Coronado Ranch apartment complex ended up in the hospital after thwarting a group of mailbox vandals on Monday morning. According to Las Vegas police, about 12:45 a.m. the guard saw a group of people trying to break into mailboxes at the central Las Vegas complex when he confronted them. The group jumped into a vehicle and while trying to flee, struck the guard. The guard was hospitalized with injures that were not life-threatening. The suspects fled and remain at-large.
Las Vegas police looking for robbery suspects
Authorities are looking for three men who police said used a weapon on their victims in a recent string of robberies across the Las Vegas Valley. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Las Vegas police looking for robbery suspects
Authorities are looking for three men who police said used a weapon on their victims in a recent string of robberies across the Las Vegas Valley. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Metro investigates an officer-involved shooting in east Las Vegas
Las Vegas police investigate an officer-involved shooting at Madge Lane and Mabel Road, between Charleston Boulevard and Stewart Avenue, Friday, April 6, 2018, in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Robbery Surveillance Video
Police are searching for a man suspected of robbing two Las Vegas clothing stores in one week.
Retail Restroom Sexual Assault Suspect
Las Vegas police are asking for help finding a man they said groped a woman in a south Las Vegas Valley restroom. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like