DCF launches investigation at Jacksonville mental health facility because of Action News Jax story


The Department of Children and Families’ Substance Abuse Mental Health Program Office launched an on-site investigation at River Point Behavioral Health because of Action News Jax’s stories about patients’ complaints there.

A letter from DCF to River Point's CEO said the agency found River Point to be in compliance with Baker Act requirements for the 21 patients that were there two days after Action News Jax's original story aired.

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Amber Stanley is one of dozens of patients at River Point Behavioral Health and Wekiva Springs Center who have come to Action News Jax since our original story aired, saying they were held against their will longer than medically necessary so the facilities could milk their insurance payments.

Both facilities are owned by national chain Universal Health Services.

“I felt like if I opened up too much, then they would just try to keep me even longer,” said Amber Stanley.

Stanley was involuntarily committed under the Baker Act in summer 2016 after overdosing on antidepressants.

Her records show she was at River Point for six days, three days longer than the 72 hours required by the Baker Act.

“I have three insurances. So they’re getting paid one way or another. And only one of my insurances sent me a letter saying they weren’t going to cover the last day because it wasn’t medically necessary,” said Stanley.

After hearing the results of DCF’s Dec. 8 on-site review, Stanley said she hopes that means River Point is getting its act together.

“I’m tired of people being taken advantage of,” said Stanley.

A statement from River Point on Wednesday said:

River Point takes seriously the care that we provide to patients, and we have always worked to comply with all laws and regulations including appropriate Baker Act procedures. We deny and dispute any assertions to the contrary. The recent letter from the State of Florida, Department of Children and Families which evaluated our facility finds that we are in compliance with the Baker Act. Due to stringent patient confidentiality and privacy laws, the hospital is precluded from discussing details regarding the care and treatment of any patient. We intend to continue to provide quality mental health services to the residents of the region."

River Point Risk Manager Shawna Waterford said in an email, “Due to patient confidentiality concerns, the facility is unable to grant camera interviews.”

Action News Jax has offered to meet off-site instead for an on camera interview.