- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 13, 2015

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Nevada officials approved a $400,000 payment to San Francisco to settle allegations that psychiatric patients were wrongly bused to California upon discharge.

The Nevada Board of Examiners voted Tuesday on the settlement, which still needs to be approved by a court and the board of supervisors in San Francisco. Nevada didn’t admit any wrongdoing, and Gov. Brian Sandoval, a member of the board, said San Francisco had a similar program called “Homeward Bound” to give patients bus tickets after their discharge.

The settlement specifies both parties must notify each other when patients are planning to travel from one jurisdiction to the other, although Nevada officials emphasized that psychiatric patients are legally free to move around as they please when they’re discharged. Nevada officials added that they also have similar, reciprocal agreements with Oregon and Sacramento, California.

“We look forward to working with California to ensure all patient transfers to and from both states are managed using these best practices and adhering to conditions detailed in the agreement,” Sandoval said when the settlement was announced.

San Francisco sued Nevada in September 2013 after the Sacramento Bee published accounts of patients who were apparently discharged from Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas, given bus tickets to cities in California and directed to seek further care there.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said 24 people with no prior connection to his city had been bused there over a five-year period, and 20 needed medical care shortly after they arrived.

Herrera said at the time that the practice “punishes jurisdictions for providing health and human services that others won’t provide.”

In the months immediately after the newspaper’s investigation, Nevada health officials said policies were strengthened to ensure a patient has support at their destination, several employees were fired, and more than $30 million was added to the budget to pay for mental health services.


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