Faith Myers stands at the doors of API. (Courtesy Photo)

Faith Myers stands at the doors of API. (Courtesy Photo)

Opinion: Private psychiatric facilities should have to provide patient stats

Patient rights must be added to state bills.

  • Thursday, October 21, 2021 10:19am
  • Opinion

By Faith J. Myers

The stories of patient mistreatment in locked private psychiatric facilities recently gained national attention. Celebrity Paris Hilton testified Feb. 9, 2021, to a Utah Senate Committee concerning her traumatic experience in private facilities.

In Alaska, over 90% of the acute care psychiatric patients receive their treatment in locked private psychiatric facilities or units outside of state-run Alaska Psychiatric Institute. In API the state has greater control over the standard of care, but the state has no such control in private facilities as of now.

On Jan. 26, 2015, the Legislative Legal Office put forth the opinion that the Department of Health and Social Services is delegating the general powers and duties of the state (DHSS) to private psychiatric facilities with an insufficient state standard of care. AS47.30.660—AS47.30.670—AS47.30.825—AS47.30.847—and AS47.30.900.

Approximately 3,000 people each year in Alaska undergo a forced psychiatric evaluation or treatment due to a court order. Additionally, over 7,000 Alaskans wind up in a locked psychiatric facility or unit in or out of state through other means.

The psychiatric patient grievance law AS47.30.847 was passed to protect patients in the grievance process. The eleven rights given to psychiatric patients in AS47.30.840 was passed to protect patients in locked facilities. The gender choice of staff for intimate care law AS18.20.095 was passed in part because psychiatric patients were being traumatized while undergoing intimate care. These three laws have no state enforcement mechanism and they do little or nothing to protect psychiatric patients.

The state of Alaska is turning disabled psychiatric patients over to private facilities with insufficient state oversight. Private psychiatric facilities are not required to provide statistics of the number and type of psychiatric patient complaints or injuries, or traumatic events experienced by patients.

House Bill 172 and Senate Bill 124 will expand the number of locations that can detain, evaluate and treat a person in crisis and expand the amount of time patients are held. Patient rights must be added to these bills and a requirement for private psychiatric facilities to provide the state and the Legislature with patient statistics and outcomes.

• Faith J. Myers is author of the book, “Going Crazy in Alaska: A History of Alaska’s Treatment of Psychiatric Patients.” Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

More in Opinion

Web
Have something to say?

Here’s how to add your voice to the conversation.

Former state lawmaker from Fairbanks John Coghill was in Juneau on Friday, April 22, 2022, and is running for Alaska’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, vacated recently by the death of Don Young. Coghill faces a crowded field but says he has the experience and pragmatism to get the job done. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Here’s why I’m supporting John Coghill for Congress

By Jim Clark Alaska is fortunate to have so many folks willing… Continue reading

Opinion: Zoning is the answer

Cruise-related problems are the question.

t
Opinion: The ‘Southern Strategy’ runs amok

Money — not the Dems — is calling the shots.

t
Opinion: Good news for Alaska journalism

We need to ability to get more in-depth news about our government’s decision making.

t
Opinion: Setting things straight

Wednesdays’ Empire had a My Turn by Judy Crondahl making numerous assumptions… Continue reading

t
Opinion: It’s time for bold action to protect our fisheries

Our fisheries feed the world and sustain our unique cultures and communities.

Faith J. Myers stands at the doors of API. (Courtesy Photo)
Opinion: Giving psychiatric patients a voice makes fiscal sense

Psychiatric patients could offer valuable insight into how to improve their treatment.

T
Opinion: Don’t be fooled

As a homeowner, I will not be suckered into signing the petition to repeal the disclosure ordinance.

Most Read