Government Law

Alleging 'Greyhound therapy' involving psychiatric patients, San Francisco sues Nevada

After accusing Nevada officials of buying psychiatric patients one-way bus tickets to his town, San Francisco City attorney Dennis Herrera sued the state Tuesday, demanding reimbursement for $500,000 in medical bills and other costs.

Described as “Greyhound therapy” by the SFGate, Herrera in his San Francisco Superior Court action claims that Las Vegas’ Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital sent 20 patients to his city by bus. According to Herrera, they received medical care, housing and other aid sponsored by the city of San Francisco.

The investigation was launched in April. Herrera’s office subpoenaed bus company records, an earlier article states, and discovered the names of 500 people who since 2008 came to California after being discharged from the state-run hospital.

A Rawson-Neal physician recommended “sunny California” to a patient, a San Francisco city attorney’s office press release states, because they “have excellent health care and more benefits than you could ever get in Nevada.”

In August, Herrera sent the Nevada attorney general a demand letter, giving the state until Sept. 9 to pay San Francisco $500,000 for the services provided.

The Nevada agency responded Monday in a letter that claimed Herrera had no details to support his claim. Also, the Nevada attorney general’s office maintains that Rawson-Neal made proper discharges of patients who wound up in California. Herrera’s investigation focused on July 2008 to March 2013, the letter notes, and during that time, Rawson-Neal cared for 771 patients from California.

“This dispute is about Nevada’s state-sanctioned practice of improperly transporting indigent psychiatric patients,” Matt Dorsey, Herrera’s spokesman, told the SFGate. “It’s not about patients who travel between the states voluntarily. We’re disappointed that Nevada officials have declined to take responsibility for their practice, and the city attorney is preparing his response.”

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