Letters to the Editor

Letter: Poor track record

I read the article by Michelle Theriault Boots on Nov. 21, “Absolute Chaos.” Psychiatric patient rights and the issues of adequate quality of care do not originate inside locked psychiatric facilities, the federal government or the hospital certification organization joint commission. It is the state Legislature and the courts that protect patients.

Starting at Morningside Psychiatric Hospital in Portland, Oregon, where Alaska psychiatric patients were sent for care in the 1960s, there has been an all-too-cozy relationship between the Alaska state government andagencies and the owners and managers of acute care psychiatric facilities that have prevented psychiatric patients from being treated in a fair manner.

In what I consider to be a mistake, in 1992, the Alaska Legislature gave managers of psychiatric facilities the job of writing the patient grievance procedure, and more importantly, the appeal process. The Department of Health is required to investigate the complaints of psychiatric patients.

But in the same law, they can delegate their responsibilities, which they have done, mostly to psychiatric facilities. It is state laws and regulations that protect psychiatric patients. As of now, Alaska has a very poor record of protecting psychiatric patients in locked facilities in a timely way.

— Dorrance Collins


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