The Wake County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to outsource the transportation of involuntarily committed mental health patients to a private security company. The Sheriff’s Department will hand off responsibility for moving patients from WakeMed Hospital to Lankford Protective Services.
A sheriff’s deputy has traditionally accompanied patients from WakeMed, which in 2010 was responsible for committing 40 percent of those involuntarily committed in Wake County, to the appropriate facility. Since Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh stopped accepting patients December 3, the transportation time and distance of involuntarily committed patients will increase significantly. Patients will be transported to the new state hospital at Butner and to private hospitals even farther away.
“We need to get the sheriff’s deputies off the road and we’ll be better served,” said Commissioner Phil Matthews. “It would free up sheriff’s deputies to do what they are sworn to do, which is take care of the citizens of Wake County.”
Lankford’s agents are duly sworn officers with extra training in transporting people who are involuntarily committed. WakeMed maintains that there will be four improvements in service to mental health care consumers.
Patients, or consumers, will be transported in unmarked vans, the entire journey will be videotaped, an officer of the same sex as the patient will be guaranteed, and the wait time for transportation will be decreased.
The hospital also says that it will no longer be a requirement that patients are handcuffed during transportation.
Commissioner Joe Bryan expressed concern that no consumers of mental health care services were sought out for input on the decision, but after being assured that the new service will be comparable, the measure passed unanimously with little debate.
Commission sets 2011 committee assignments
The Board of Commissioners has five committees each with three members: the Audit Committee, the Budget, Education and Finance Committee, the Growth, Land Use and Environment Committee, the Human Services Committee, and the Public Safety Committee.
The committee structure changes from year to year, but with only one new commissioner on the board, Republican Phil Matthews, the make-up of the committees changed very little this year.
Chair Tony Gurley (R)
*Vice Chair Joe Bryan (R)
Stan Norwalk (D)
Budget, Education and Finance
Chair Joe Bryan (R)
*Vice Chair Tony Gurley (R)
Paul Coble (R)
Growth, Land Use and Environment
*Chair Phil Matthews (R)
Vice Chair Betty Lou Ward (D)
Tony Gurley (R)
Chair James West (D)
*Vice Chair Betty Lou Ward (D)
Stan Norwalk (D)
Chair Paul Coble (R)
*Vice Chair Phil Matthews (R)
Joe Bryan (R)
* denotes a new member to the committee.