- Associated Press - Saturday, February 11, 2017

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - The Rapid City Regional Hospital has announced that is no longer taking in certain types of mentally ill patients and will instead contact the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office to take those individuals in to custody.

This is the second major policy change recently made by the hospital that limits on the type of mental health care the hospital will provide, the Rapid City Journal (https://bit.ly/2lfAIkq) reported.

The decision has received criticism from local law enforcement officials, who say the policy change was made suddenly and without their input.

“I don’t think it’s any one entity’s problem,” said Barry Tice, director of Pennington County Health and Human Services, “but if we don’t choose to try to figure this out together, in 10 years we’re going to have the same discussion and ask, ‘Why didn’t we do something different?’ It’s not good for the human side of things.”

A letter sent to Rapid City police Chief Karl Jegeris in January said the hospital would no longer admit behavioral health patients, who don’t have acute medical needs to the main hospital when the Behavioral Health facility is at capacity. The change went into effect Feb. 1.

If the Behavioral Health Center was full then Regional’s main hospital building would treat a mentally ill person seeking help. But now mentally ill people without “acute medical needs” will be denied treatment and will call authorities once the Behavioral Health Facility is at capacity.

“Unless we hear differently, we will contact the sheriff’s office to take custody of involuntarily detained persons when the Behavioral Health Facility is at capacity,” the letter reads.

South Dakota law states a person who hasn’t been charged with a crime can be arrested by law enforcement for a maximum 24 hours.


Information from: Rapid City Journal, https://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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