Letter: Bill aids psychiatric patients

Approximately 26,000 psychiatric patients in Alaska have an opportunity in January to improve their grievance procedure rights.

Alaska is special in that psychiatric patients have a right to file a grievance but beyond that, with little or no state involvement, it is up to the 30 psychiatric facilities and units and their out-of-state certification organizations to fill in the details of the patient’s grievance/appeal process. And when psychiatric hospitals and units write the grievance policy, due process, etc., they do so to protect the psychiatric facility or unit, not the patients. Who is speaking for the patients?

All psychiatric patients should be given more state rights in the grievance process, due process, appeal process to the state, a right to assistance in the protection of their rights, etc.

Increasing patient grievance rights will improve quality of care and save lives.

Rep. Pete Higgins has pre-filed a bill that if passed would improve the grievance procedure law, AS47.30.847, for psychiatric patients. He deserves our support.

— Faith Myers and Dorrance Collins, mental health advocates