Regardless of the year or political party in power, in our opinion, the Department of Health and Social Services has taken it upon themselves in the name of convenience and economics to deny disabled psychiatric patients a long list of rights that patients need to recover and protect themselves.
The Alaska Legislature in 1992 gave psychiatric patients the right to file a grievance within a facility. (State law AS47.30.847)
DHSS never established what would be considered fair due process for a patient’s grievance and appeal.
The grievance law states that psychiatric patients have a right to bring their grievance to an impartial body within a facility. DHSS has never required that patients must be informed of their right and never established who the impartial body would be and fair due process.
The grievance law states that there must be a trained patient advocate who will assist a psychiatric patient in bringing grievance or other redress (against a facility on behalf of the patient). Patients are not fully informed of that provision within the law.
It can be demonstrated that poor rights for disabled psychiatric patients adds to suicide, PTSD and recidivism. There are two options. One: DHSS starts informing patients of their rights and assisting patients. Or two: the Legislature revises AS47.30.847 with revisions that forces DHSS to improve the rights for psychiatric patients.
Faith Myers and Dorrance Collins,
• My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.