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Senate Health and Social Services Committee Hearing Set for Tuesday

ANCHORAGE –The Senate Health and Social Services Committee has scheduled a meeting to discuss the state’s mental health grievance procedures.  The hearing will take place in Suite 220 of the Anchorage Legislative Information Office on Tuesday, August 21st at 9 a.m.  Members of the public and media are invited and encouraged to attend.

“Every year 8,000 to 10,000 Alaskans are either civilly committed or brought to hospitals for forced psychiatric evaluations.  Sometimes they are handcuffed, strapped to a gurney, shackled, or involuntarily medicated without consent of family members or legal representatives,” said Senator Davis. “Unfortunately, our current laws do not provide adequate protections or methods for these patients to file a grievance.  Our statutes should provide ways for family members and others seeking help to know that their voices and concerns will be heard and addressed if something unacceptable should occur. ”

The purpose of the hearing is to discuss how to update the state’s current grievance procedures to reduce unnecessary patient trauma while recognizing that difficult situations do occur and need to be addressed in an open and transparent manner that respects the rights of both the patient and the institution.

“Ironically, prisoners in Alaska’s correctional system are afforded a much more comprehensive grievance procedure with due process rights and protections under the law than mental health patients,” said Senator Davis.   “We need to create a process where these individuals are not treated like criminals and their rights stay intact to the greatest extent possible.”

WHO: Senate Health and Social Services Committee

WHEN: Tuesday, August 21st, 9 a.m.

WHERE: Anchorage Legislative Information Office, 716 West 4th Avenue, Suite 220

WHY: Discuss mental health patient rights, notifications, and grievance procedures

People who cannot make it to Anchorage can go to a local Legislative Information Office, listen in at http://alaskalegislature.tv/ or contact Senator Davis’ office to join a teleconference.

For more information, please contact Thomas Obermeyer in the Office of Senator Bettye Davis at (907) 269-0144.

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