North Tampa Behavioral Health is a popular psychiatric hospital in Florida. More than two thousand people arrive at the hospital each year in the hopes that they can find aid.
However, it seems like this hospital is more harmful than helpful, as an investigation from The Tampa Bay Times revealed the center has routinely held patients against their will — making millions in the process.
When patients arrive at North Tampa Behavioral Health, they are often checked in under a state law that allows mental health centers to detain patients who are at risk of self-harm for 72 hours. After this, the center cannot hold patients against their will — or rather, they are not legally allowed to.
Despite the law, it is exactly what happened. After analyzing thousands of hospital records, police reports, state inspections, court records and financial filings — in addition to interviews with former patients — the Times was able to show that the hospital tricked or used coercive methods to keep patients captive.
Some patients were falsely told that they had “waived their right to leave.” Others were told to wait for court hearings that were never even in the works.
Employees at the facility even used threats in some cases. One patient, Priya Sarran-Persad, claimed that a psychologist threatened to commit her a second time if she didn’t “volunteer” to stay longer.
Another patient, Michael Jenkins, had to resort to hiring a lawyer to get out of the mental health facility. He was still stuck there for a week, as the hospital never sent his paperwork to the judge — a move that is illegal. Jenkins claimed that he received no care and had to “beg” staff members to let him “get some air.”
“I wouldn’t even wish my worst enemy to go there,” said Jenkins.
Though a majority of patients only remained a few extra days, others were forced to wait much longer, despite wanting to leave. The suspected reason behind this? Money.
The hospital charges patients a hefty $1,500 per night., which means that keeping a patient even one extra day would lead to nearly $1.5 million in additional revenue for the hospital.
Unfortunately, the high price is just another nightmare for patients who finally escaped from the nefarious tactics of the hospital.
The latest bombshell report is just another strike against a center that doesn’t have a sterling reputation with the state to begin with. Since 2014, North Tampa Behavioral Health has been cited nearly 75 times for “unsafe conditions and code violations.” It is the second-highest in the state.
Inspectors of the hospital reportedly claimed that staff members were unqualified and undertrained. They also claimed that the employees had put patients in danger on occasion, even denying them their basic rights.
Patients interviewed by the times echoed similar sentiments, claiming that they received little to no therapy and rarely saw medical professionals. One patient recalled having to “smell an orange,” which would supposedly ease her anxiety and depression. Another unconventional form of treatment that reportedly occurred involved a patient having to watch an educational video on electricity.
Meanwhile, North Tampa Behavioral Health has hit back at the allegations. CEO Bryon Coleman Jr. claimed that the hospital “strongly rejects any claim that it deliberately or willfully holds patients against their will absent a legitimate, clinically based determination,” said Coleman.