Traditionally, psychiatric patients use an in-facility grievance procedure and appeal process as the first steps to protect themselves from physical or sexual abuse, denial of basic rights, exploitation and institutional good intentions that can traumatize the patient.
In Alaska, it is the locked psychiatric institutions’ or units’ staff that set the patient grievance appeal process and their due process rules. That kind of institutional power is not fair to psychiatric patients.
Employees of psychiatric institutions choose who serves on their required impartial body, reviewing and passing judgment on the validity of a patient’s complaint.
A patient advocate is required to be in all psychiatric facilities to assist the patients. Some institutions do not call the patient advocate by that term, and there is no specific amount of time that patient advocates are required to help the patients each day.
Give psychiatric patients what they all deserve: a better grievance and appeal process law. Work to revise AS47.30.847, add more detail and cover all psychiatric patients. Alaska needs to give patients the respect and protection they need in order to recover.
Dorrance Collins and Faith Myers
Mental Health Advocates