I’m a reporter who investigated a Florida psychiatric hospital that earns millions by trapping patients against their will. Ask me anything.
I’m Neil Bedi, an investigative reporter at the Tampa Bay Times (you might remember me from this 2017 AMA). I spent the last several months looking into a psychiatric hospital that forcibly holds patients for days longer than allowed while running up their medical bills. I found that North Tampa Behavioral Health uses loopholes in Florida’s mental health law to trap people at the worst moments of their lives. To piece together the methods the hospital used to hold people, I interviewed 15 patients, analyzed thousands of hospital admission records and read hundreds of police reports, state inspections, court records and financial filings. Read more about them in the story.
In recent years, the hospital has been one of the most profitable psychiatric hospitals in Florida. It’s also stood out for its shaky safety record. The hospital told us it had 75 serious incidents (assaults, injuries, runaway patients) in the 70 months it has been open. Patients have been brutally attacked or allowed to attempt suicide inside its walls. It has also been cited by the state more often than almost any other psychiatric facility.
Last year, it hired its fifth CEO in five years. Bryon “BJ” Coleman was a quarterback on the Green Bay Packers’ practice squad in 2012 and 2013, played indoor and Canadian football, was vice president of sales for a trucking company and consulted on employee benefits. He has no experience in healthcare. Now he runs the 126-bed hospital.
We also found that the hospital is part of a large chain of behavioral health facilities called Acadia Healthcare, which has had problems across the country. Our reporting on North Tampa Behavioral and Acadia is continuing. If you know anything, email me at [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]).
EDIT: Getting a bunch of messages about Acadia. Wanted to add that if you'd like to share information about this, but prefer not using email, there are other ways to reach us here: https://projects.tampabay.com/projects/tips/
EDIT 2: Thanks so much for your questions and feedback. I have to sign off, but there's a chance I may still look at questions from my phone tonight and tomorrow. Please keep reading.