Suit: SC Mental Health needlessly hospitalizes people

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By MEG KINNARD

Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – A group that advocates for patients with disabilities is accusing South Carolina’s mental health agency of needlessly hospitalizing people instead of providing them in-home services.

Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities says in a federal class-action lawsuit filed Wednesday that the Department of Mental Health is unnecessarily hospitalizing men and women with disabilities at a Columbia facility instead of providing them with services in their homes.

The lawsuit accuses the agency of “a long, unfortunate history of confining people with mental disabilities to isolated asylums.” The complaint cites a 1999 U.S. Supreme Court decision in which the high court ruled segregation of people with disabilities violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A Department of Mental Health spokeswoman didn’t immediately return an email message Thursday seeking comment on the suit.

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