SPRINGDALE, Ark. William VanWhy is one of 15 former patients who filed a civil lawsuit against Dr. Brian Hyatt claiming they were held in Springdale’s Northwest Behavioral Health Unit against their will.
A new video obtained by 5NEWS shows a Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputy entering the unit with a court order and leaving with VanWhy at his side.
I have an injunction from District Court Judge Taylor for the immediate release of Mr. William VanWhy, the Washington County Representative said.
VanWhy suffered from depression and anxiety and agreed to be voluntarily admitted to Northwest Medical Center’s inpatient behavioral health unit in March 2022, but says he was not allowed to leave.
I stayed there for about five days under the care of Dr. Hyatts. I’ve never seen that in my life. I never met him even though I was under his care, VanWhy said.
VanWhy says the doctor billed his insurance for two in-person visits during his stay, for about 45 minutes each time, billing his insurance a total of tens of thousands of dollars.
VanWhy’s family reportedly had to hire a lawyer and obtain a court order from a judge in order to release him.
I’ve asked to leave every day for the past three days and they haven’t let me go, VanWhy said. You think of a hospital as a place where you heal and doctors as people who are supposed to help you along the way.”
After about 12 hours in the unit, VanWhy says he knew something wasn’t right. He says he never met a doctor and only went to one group therapy session during his 5-day stay, saying we’d talk about our favorite sound drink. That was the extent of the therapy I received there.”
VanWhy says he asked to leave multiple times and asked how long he would be there, but they consistently said the average stay was between seven and 14 days and everyone repeated it. It was like they were reading from a script or something.”
VanWhy says when the deputy arrived with the court order, the hospital worker walked into the unit demanding he sign a large pile of paperwork threatening to bill him without going through insurance if he didn’t sign, but VanWhy said rejected.
I honestly felt so threatened in that moment, like my life was on the line. My mental health was at stake. I was extremely scared, he recalled. Go to the hospital to heal. Don’t make it worse. After my stay and treatment there or lack thereof, I definitely fell into a deeper depression, VanWhy said.
VanWhy can be heard on video saying, “Oh my God, you saved my life, you don’t even understand,” as he was escorted out by the deputy.
I hope this never happens to anyone else. And I hope this gets more and more attention because it’s really important for people to see the wrongs this guy has done and continues to do every day, he said.
Court records show that VanWhy is just one of several former patients who had to obtain court orders to be released from the behavioral health unit.
Dr. Hyatt was the Medical Director of the Behavioral Health Unit from January 2018 to May 2022. Hyatt is currently under investigation by multiple agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Agency.
In recent months, 5NEWS has reached out to Hyatt for comment several times, including a visit to his Rogers private studio last week. Staff said they had no comments on the ongoing investigation or litigation.
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