Opinion: Bad laws have left psychiatric patients in Alaska with bad policies

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Bad laws have left psychiatric patients with bad policies

Bad laws have left psychiatric patients in Alaska with bad policies. The legislative legal office in 2015 stated that the Department of Health and Social Services is able to delegate “many of its duties to other entities” as provided by AS47.30.660 (b) (13); but that the “delegation” is not accompanied by a standard of care with adequate details. The state is letting managers of private psychiatric facilities set the standard of care for individuals with a disability instead of the legislature and appropriate agencies.

The Alaska government turns disabled psychiatric patients over to managers of locked private psychiatric institutions in and out of state, then turns a blind eye to all but the most egregious mistreatment. As an example, the state does not know the number and type of complaints filed by patients in private psychiatric facilities and the state does not perform patient exit polls or help disabled patients file a complaint. Those days should be over. After a stay in a locked psychiatric facility or unit, about half of the patients will be a little closer to recidivism, post-traumatic stress disorder, or suicide.

Disabled psychiatric patients should be given adequate protection. There has to be an independent agency established by the Legislature that investigates or reviews all complaints by psychiatric patients, provides assistance to disabled patients and advocates for improved rights. Once a year, the agency would produce a report on the number and type of complaints made by psychiatric patients during transportation and treatment in each facility.

Faith Myers,

Anchorage

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