CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Legislative money committees approved $6.4 million for new mental health programs Saturday to fund a home visit pilot program, community interaction services and more beds for mentally ill inmates at a northern Nevada psychiatric hospital.
The late budget amendments proposed by Gov. Brian Sandoval will be paid for by a one-time infusion of $21 million in tobacco settlement money. They were approved during a joint meeting of the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees.
About $1.4 million will be used to re-establish a second Program for Assertive Community Treatment Team in southern Nevada that was eliminated in previous budget cuts. Another $2 million will create a mental health home visit program and $3 million will be used to add 10 beds to Lake's Crossing in the Reno-Sparks area that serves criminal defendants and inmates.
Budget Director Jeff Mohlenkamp said the new beds at Lake's Crossing are intended to cut down wait times and avoid federal litigation or possible sanctions stemming from a 2005 lawsuit and ultimate settlement over mental health evaluations of inmates.
A federal appeals court determined inmates should not spend more than seven to 10 days in jail waiting for an evaluation ordered by a court, but current wait times are 30-60 days.
Lake's Crossing is licensed for 66 beds. The budget amendment will allow conversion of a wing at the nearby Dini Townsend Hospital to house in-custody patients. Dini Townsend already has a 10-bed medium security annex.
In southern Nevada, restoring a second, 10-member PACT team will help mental health patients who are living in the community and have frequent encounters with law enforcement. Teams provide intense services and oversight to help patients stay on medication and treatment programs. Typically people are assigned to a PACT team for six months but they can remain in the program for up to two years.
The Mental Health Home Visiting program is designed to assist people recently released from outpatient or in-patient facilities and their families. Clinicians will visit the homes to help alleviate any possible dangers such as weapons. Funding will be split between northern and southern Nevada.
Mohlenkamp said the governor will introduce another bill seeking $1.4 million to add 10 long-term care beds at a now closed facility next to the Rawson Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas.