(a) The chief medical officer of a mental health facility may release an involuntary patient on convalescent status (trial visit) when the chief medical officer believes such release is in the best interest of the patient. Release on convalescent status shall include provisions for continuing responsibility to and by a mental health facility, not necessarily the facility in which the patient was previously hospitalized, including a plan of treatment on an outpatient basis to ensure that the patient receives whatever care and treatment he or she might require. At the end of six months on convalescent status, the patient must be discharged from any involuntary commitment order that might have been entered against him or her and he or she cannot be involuntarily returned to any mental health facility unless a new commitment proceeding has been instituted against him or her. When a patient released on convalescent status is discharged from his or her involuntary commitment, it shall be the responsibility of the chief medical officer of the mental health facility of which the individual was a patient prior to being placed on convalescent status to immediately make a report of the discharge of the patient to the circuit court or mental hygiene commissioner of the county in which the involuntary hospitalization was ordered and to the circuit court or mental hygiene commissioner of the county wherein the individual is a resident.
(b) Notwithstanding any provision of this code to the contrary, anytime an individual is involuntarily committed to a mental health facility for inpatient treatment pursuant to the provisions of article five of this chapter due to a mental illness and it is determined by the medical director of the mental health facility that the use of medication by the individual is necessary to avoid the recurrence of the behavior which caused the involuntary hospitalization, initial release from the mental health facility shall be on convalescent status with the requirement that the individual follow a designated treatment plan which may include the taking of medication unless the medical director makes a written finding that release on convalescent status will serve no treatment purpose. If an individual released on convalescent status does not comply with the terms and conditions of convalescent status, any person may file a petition to revoke such convalescent status and said petition shall be subject to the procedures and provisions of this article.