On Oct. 21, Superior Court Judge William Morse gave the state 45 days to produce a plan on how to reduce psychiatric patient mistreatment.
Creating psychiatric patient rights and quality of care on an emergency basis through the courts demonstrates a legislative failure. And the shortcomings of advocacy organizations tasked with protecting the disabled.
Fifteen years ago, a committee made up of nonprofits and government employees determined that patients at Alaska Psychiatric Institute could not file a grievance in a fair way. Since then, Disability Law Center and Medicaid/Medicare, in separate reports, made the same point. The last report came out in 2017.
Acute care psychiatric patients are unnecessarily traumatized, denied rights and injured. There is no end in sight. Patients do not have an impartial person to help them file a grievance or an impartial body to bring the grievance to. When patients cannot file a grievance in a fair way, about 20 psychiatric units make the same mistakes over and over.
The Legislature should pass laws that protect the disabled in the grievance process. Waiting for the courts will be at a high cost.
— Faith Myers
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