Texas authorities investigate death of mental patient at Cass Co - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Texas authorities investigate death of mental patient at Cass Co. Jail

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CASS COUNTY, TX (KSLA) -

The Cass County Sheriff's Office and Texas Rangers are investigating the death of a mental patient at the Cass County Jail.

Cass County Sheriff Larry Rowe confirms that 50-year-old Beverly Dubal died on Monday, April 15, while in custody at the jail. Rowe says she had been there on an "emergency mental hold" since April 5. "They were trying to find a bed for her in a mental hospital," Rowe says.

Dubal was discovered unresponsive in her cell on Saturday morning. She was taken to a local hospital, and then airlifted to Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview. She remained on life support for 2 more days before she died.

Rowe explains that the holds like this, issued by the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, are done when there are no beds available at a mental hospital. The orders last 72 hours, but can be re-issued upon reassessment if a bed is still not available.

Dubal had been at Atlanta Memorial Hospital before her transfer to the Cass County Jail.

Her body has been sent for an autopsy, and Rowe says her cause of death is not yet known. As is required by law, Rowe says an internal investigation is under way, and the Texas Rangers are involved.

Rowe also confirms 2 females shared the same cell with Dubal. He says they have been interviewed. Under Texas law, a person detained in a jail or a non medical facility shall be kept separate from any person who is charged with or convicted of a crime. "It's a small jail," Rowe says of the 96-bed facility. Rowe was unable to confirm what the other 2 women in the cell were charged with a crime or were being detained for other reasons.

As for the use of jails as temporary holding facilities for patients such as Dubal, Rowe says, "It's just a problem statewide," and "We're not a mental hospital."

As a result of budget cuts, more patients are ending up in the ER and in county jails, places that are supposed to be the last-resort option for those in need of mental health care.

According to the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities, the 82nd Texas Legislature restored DSHS mental health General Revenue funding to FY 2010-11 levels, but the All Funds total was actually less than FY 2010-11 levels because federal stimulus funds were not replaced. Current FY 2012-13 funding puts Texas last among states in the provision of mental health services.

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