My Turn: Alaska continues to fail at properly caring for the disabled

Five days ago, the Director of Behavioral Health, Randall Burns, reported to the Trust Authority Board that because of overcrowding, 17 adults and two adolescents are on the waiting list to receive treatment at acute care Alaska Psychiatric Institute. The 10-bed forensic unit is over capacity and some forensic patients are housed and evaluated in non-forensic units.

Reported overcrowding means that psychiatric hospitals are either not inclined to accept new patients or inclined to release patients early before completion of their treatment to a point where too often released patients become a danger to themselves or others.

Overcrowding in an acute care psychiatric hospital reduces the opportunity for psychiatric patients to stabilize before being released.

Forensic patients are sometimes placed on a hospital unit in with regular patients. In all probability against the law — doing so stigmatizes patients who have not committed a crime — treats them like criminals.

Dual diagnosis mental illness/Alzheimer’s patients need beds in a secure setting. As of now, some are housed in Alaska Psychiatric Institute. The prognosis is that this type of patient will be on the increase in the future.

Regardless of the administration, Alaska continues to fail at properly caring for the disabled.

Some of the failures: never giving proper rights in law to the disabled to protect themselves, including the grievance procedure law.

The state should never have sold the old API hospital. The building should have been used by the state to transition acute care psychiatric patients to the community. A crisis treatment center, housing for low-risk seniors with dementia and mental illness, or individuals not acceptable to nursing homes.

The new API hospital should never been built only to house 80 patients — the hospital should have been larger.

The forensic unit at API should have been more than 10 beds — it should have been 30 beds.

It is going to take good men and women who advocate to put pressure on the state to improve the rights of the disabled. As of now, Alaska is about 30 years behind best practice.

• Faith Myers and Dorrance Collins are mental health advocates who reside in Anchorage.

More

Mon, 02/20/2017 - 20:01

Outside Editorial: Good, bad and fake news on vaccines

The following editorial appeared in The Sacramento Bee:

Read more
Mon, 02/20/2017 - 20:01

My Turn: Public safety funding needed

We’re lifelong Alaskans, concerned citizens, and police officers. We love Alaska. We take pride in our career, and in serving and protecting Alaskans.

Read more
Mon, 02/20/2017 - 20:01

Letter: The human cost of war

The Vietnam War officially ended on April 30, 1975.

Read more
Tue, 02/21/2017 - 09:14

My Turn: Alaskans have a right to consent to PFD and fund changes

The Permanent Fund Defenders mission is to educate people about the history and purpose of Alaska’s Permanent Fund and dividend (PFD); to protect and defend what we regard as its primary purpose; and to support legislators in making the right decisions related to the Permanent Fund and PFD that benefit all Alaskans.

Read more

CONTACT US

  • Switchboard: 907-586-3740
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-586-3740
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Business Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-523-2230
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback

ADVERTISING

SUBSCRIBER SERVICES

SOCIAL NETWORKING