News Release from the office of Senator Carlos Uresti

May 7, 2009
CONTACT: Mark Langford at 512.463.0119

Uresti bill requires transportation plan for discharged mental patients

Raquel Padilla didn't survive very long after state hospital workers gave her a ticket home and left her at a downtown San Antonio bus station last December.

Just three days after she was discharged from the San Antonio State Hospital, the 54-year-old Padilla was found dead in a concrete ditch. The cause of death was a mystery but her circumstance was all too clear. Hospital workers had left the mentally ill woman to fend for herself, and she never made it home to Del Rio.

That practice would be illegal under a bill by Sen. Carlos Uresti that was unanimously adopted on Thursday by the Texas Senate.

"Those charged with Raquel's care should have realized she was not capable of dealing with the challenges of a busy urban environment, especially in an unfamiliar city," Uresti said. "They just dropped her off and considered the job done."

Senate Bill 2079 requires that a physician responsible for a patient's continuing care plan specifically address transportation when the patient is discharged from a state hospital. The physician must consult with the patient and the appropriate relatives or guardians and coordinate with local mental health authorities where the patient resides.

Since January 2008, the San Antonio hospital has left almost 600 discharged patients at the bus station. Uresti said the practice must stop.

"I was horrified by Raquel's death, and I want to make sure it never happens again," he said.

Carlos Uresti is the senator from State Senate District 19 representing over 750,000 residents throughout a 23 county area stretching along the U.S.-Mexico border, from San Antonio to El Paso County, including all or part of the following: Bandera, Bexar, Brewster, Culberson, Crockett, El Paso, Edwards, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Kinney, Loving, Maverick, Medina, Pecos, Presidio, Real, Reeves, Sutton, Terrell, Uvalde, Val Verde, Ward, and Winkler counties. Covering 55,000 square miles, the district contains 62 school districts and spans two time zones.