Nevada Patient Busing: Las Vegas mental hospital used commercial buses to “dump” more than 1,500 psychiatric patients in 48 states over five years

Cynthia Hubert and Phillip Reese, Nevada Patient Busing. The Sacramento Bee, Series of 5 stories published on 7 April, 14 April, 5 May, 23 June, and 15 December 2013. “The Bee began this investigation after learning of a mentally ill man who, according to sources in the social services community, had been bused from a Nevada state psychiatric hospital to Sacramento, with a minimal supply of food and medication and without any arrangements for his treatment or housing. After locating him in a boarding home in Sacramento, The Bee pieced together James Flavy Coy Brown’s story by interviewing him at length, tracking down relatives across the country, and talking to doctors, social workers and caregivers he encountered after his arrival in Sacramento. Brown gave us permission to access his confidential medical information….”

Finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting.

Excerpts from stories:

To put his case in context, The Bee obtained Greyhound bus receipts for the last five years from Nevada’s mental health division. An analysis of that data shows that over the past five years, Nevada has bused hundreds of mentally ill patients from its primary state psychiatric hospital in Las Vegas to big cities and small towns across America. Since July 2008, Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital has transported more than 1,500 mentally ill patients out of southern Nevada by Greyhound bus, sending at least one person to every state in the continental United States. A third of those patients were sent to California….

Part Two, 14 April 2013: Nevada’s approach to dispatching mentally ill patients has come under scrutiny since one of its clients turned up suicidal and confused at a Sacramento homeless services complex. James Flavy Coy Brown, who is 48 and suffers from a variety of mood disorders including schizophrenia, was discharged in February from Rawson-Neal to a Greyhound bus for Sacramento, a place he had never visited and where he knew no one.

The hospital sent him on the 15-hour bus ride without making arrangements for his treatment or housing in California; he arrived in Sacramento out of medication and without identification or access to his Social Security payments. He wound up in the UC Davis Medical Center’s emergency room, where he lingered for three days until social workers were able to find him temporary housing.