James Brown, former Rawson-Neal patient who was sent to Sacramento and is now suing with the ACLU
Allen Lichtenstein, General Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada
BY IAN MYLCHREEST -- Former Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital patient James F. Brown flatly contradicts Nevada authorities’ account of how he came to be sent to Sacramento. He insists in an interview with KNPR that his doctors had suggested he go to California and told him he could not stay in Nevada.
Brown ended up at Rawson-Neal after paramedics took him to UMC when he ran out his medication. From the emergency room, he was transported to psychiatric hospital in Las Vegas. He was not really treated, he contends. “The only thing they did was give me medicine,” he says. “But they didn’t do anything with me. I didn’t see the doctor or counselors or nurses or anything. Nobody for three days.”
He was only in the hospital three days before he was being set up for discharge after suffering what he called “psychotic episodes.”
(Photo: Sacremento Bee)
“They all of a sudden came and said, ‘Mr. Brown, the doctor wants to see you,” he says. “And they brought me in a room and there was a doctor, a psychiatrist behind his desk, and there was another man like taking notes. And he said, ‘Where do you want to go, Mr. Brown?’ And I said, ‘I want to go to the Rush Organization (Las Vegas housing for adults with mental health problems) in Nevada and they’ll take me in. And he said, ‘No, you can’t go back to the Rush Organization. You have to go somewhere else. What state do you think you’d like to go to?’”
Brown told the psychiatrist he did not want to leave Nevada but he was told he had to pick a state where he had friends and family. He says he told them he had a daughter in North Carolina but did not know where she was living. Then, the psychiatrist suggested California.
“California’s a real nice state. They’ve got real good mental health care there. A lot better than Nevada and we’ll get you a bus ticket and we’ll have the cab take you to the bus station,” the psychiatrist told him.
Brown says he told authorities he did not want to leave Nevada but was again told he would have to go. “You’ve got to,” he was told in the meeting with the psychiatrist. When Brown said he had no friends or relatives in California, he was told to call 911 when he got off the bus in Sacramento.
The bus station manager would not let him call an ambulance. He heard voices telling him that he should go to the police station four blocks from the Greyhound depot. He did talk with two police officers who eventually got him into care.
“This was not a mistake. This was a policy,” says ACLU of Nevada General Counsel Allen Lichtenstein. “He was no more able to participate and choose to go to Sacramento, without any identification, without any money, without any means of taking care of himself -- with powerful psychotropic drugs in a little baggie that he was supposed to take care of for himself.” What Mr. Brown went through requires legal redress and that is the purpose of the suit, says Lichtenstein.
Brown says he is filing the lawsuit with the ACLU of Nevada because what they did was “wrong.” The suit is needed because the hospital will not admit that there was any malpractice. Without the suit, he says, nothing will change for the better.