Search Results for: virginia inspector general

Baltimore Incident Is Simply The Latest In Patient Dumping: Hospitals And Jails Find Creative Ways To Rid Themselves Of Patients

(1-15-17) The viral video footage of a woman, clad only in a hospital gown, being literally dumped on a Baltimore street by University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) employees last week in freezing temperatures outraged viewers.

In a mea culpa press conference, the hospital’s top official, Dr. Mohan Suntha, declared: “We take full responsibility for this failure,” and left the impression that patient dumping is rare and a freak occurrence.

Sadly, that’s just not true. It has been going on for decades and now hospitals are not the only ones finding creative ways to rid themselves of poor patients with serious mental illnesses rather than treating them.

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Two Well Known Advocates Change Careers, Well Sorta.


I want to thank everyone, once again, for your kind words of support about my appointment  last week to a congressional advisory committee. Our first meeting will be next week and I will keep you informed of our progress. Meanwhile:

(8-21-17) Mira Signer and Virgil Stucker, two highly-respected mental health advocates, have moved to new careers.

After working for a decade at the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Virginia, Mira has resigned as executive director to become the System of Care Director for Magellan Health of Virginia.

Magellan Health of Virginia has the state’s contract to provide behavioral health services for those on Medicaid and also on children’s assisted health insurance.

During her tenure, Mira was a much needed strong, relentless and fearless voice. Most recently, she was responsible for boldly protesting about the death of Jamycheal Mitchell, who literally starved in the Hampton Roads Regional Jail. It was Mira who helped organize a letter from advocacy groups that asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate Mitchell’s death after the disAbility Law Center, the state Inspector General, and the Virginia Attorney General shamefully ducked their duties.

In an email about the career change, Mira wrote:

“I wasn’t expecting it but the opportunity arose and while it was an extremely tough decision given my love for the work, I felt it was a great opportunity to learn and be challenged in new ways, to bring my voice and experiences into the managed care world and work within systems to educate and guide policy decisions to make a positive difference.”

She will be sorely missed.

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A Breath of Fresh Air: Two Nonpartisan Politicians Working To Improve Mental Health Care


Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds

(7-28-17) At a time when it’s easy for all of us to feel disappointment in our political system, we have an example of the best in our democracy here in Virginia.

I’m talking about the cooperation and determination of state Sen. Creigh Deeds (D.) and representative Rob Bell (R.) in working together to improve mental health and substance abuse care in the state.

An example of Deeds’ statesmanship came late yesterday when his attorney announced the state senator had chosen to drop the Virginia Department of Behavior Health and Developmental Services from a $6 million wrongful death lawsuit that he had filed last year in response to the preventible death of Gus, his 24 year-old son.

In return, the department has pledged to partner with him in helping overhaul Virginia’s fractured mental health and substance abuse system.  The exact details about what the state actually will do haven’t been formalized. However, according to a Richmond Times Dispatch story by K. Burnell Evans, the department has agreed to hold an annual symposium “that will provide a forum for discussion of mental health topics and issues of significance in Virginia and of interest across the country.”

In announcing Deeds’ decision to let the department off-the-hook, his attorney said, “It has always been Senator Deeds’ goal to reach a point of constructive change that can serve to prevent any other family from experiencing the tragedy his family experienced.”

Simply put, it never has been about the money. It has been about forcing the state to improve services – something it has historically failed to do.

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South Dakota Hospital Tells Psychotic Patients: Go Directly To Jail. Not Welcomed Here!

rapid city

(2-13-17) Officials at Rapid City Regional Hospital in South Dakota need to re-read the Hippocratic Oath and ask themselves if they are proud of how they are treating individuals with mental illnesses in the Black Hills region.

Unless someone in a mental health crisis also has an “acute medical need,” the hospital is turning them over to the police to be held in jail for 24 hours even though they have not committed any crimes.

A hospital spokesman explained that psychotic individuals often are disruptive and frighten other patients so they are not welcomed at the hospital. South Dakota allows law enforcement to temporarily detain individuals in jail up to 24 hours without charging them with a crime.

Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris criticized the hospital, according to Mike Anderson, a reporter with The Rapid City Journal, who disclosed the hospital’s new policy.

“This is the biggest step backward our community has experienced in terms of health care for mental health patients. And though it’s legally permissible by statute to put someone in an incarceration setting, it doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing to do.”

The Rapid City hospital is not the first to turn away pesky psychotic individuals. Consider the angry call that I received in Fairfax County, Virginia, where I live, from an outraged parent who said a local ER here called the police and had her son arrested for trespassing after he showed up seeking psychiatric help.

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A Year Later: Still No Explanation About Inmate’s Death But Lots of Dodging By Officials

(8-19-16) One year ago today, Jamycheal Mitchell was found dead in a Virginia jail cell. Here is an Op Ed that I wrote for the USA Today newspaper this week about the state’s failure to explain what happened to him.)

How an ill man starved to death in jail: USA TODAY

His naked body was found in a cell where he had been waiting transfer to a state mental hospital.

By Pete Earley

Jamycheal Mitchell died psychotic and emaciated in a Virginia jail cell a year ago this month, yet local and state officials still have not explained how a healthy 24-year-old African American could suffer a heart defect compounded by starvation without anyone in authority noticing.

Mitchell, who had schizophrenia, was arrested in April 2015 near his family’s home in Portsmouth, Va., after he allegedly took a Mountain Dew, Snickers bar and a Zebra cake, worth $5 from a 7-Eleven store without paying. His naked body was found 119 days later in a Hampton Roads Regional Jail (HRRJ) cell, where he had been waiting transfer to a state mental hospital. The 6-foot-tall Mitchell weighed190 pounds when he was arrested. He had lost 46 pounds in jail, causing the state medical examinor to cite “wasting syndrome” — sudden massive weight lost — as a major contributor to his death.


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A Fatal Shooting On Hospital Grounds: Why Was This Man Released?

(8-17-16) INOVA Fairfax Hospital needs to stop hiding behind federal privacy laws and explain why it had security guards escort a 29 year-old man, who police said was in the throes of a mental health crisis, to a bus stop rather than helping him.

That still unidentified man was fatally shot on the hospital grounds Monday night after he began swinging a metal signpost over his head and charged at a sheriff’s deputy.

The deputy involved was immediately put on administrative leave pending an investigation. The local police chief immediately disclosed the shooting at a news conference and promised to make public a video from a hospital security camera that possibly recorded footage of the shooting.

Everyone promised transparency – except for one critical player: INOVA Fairfax Hospital.

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