SPRINGDALE, Ark. — William VanWhy is one of 15 former patients who have filed civil lawsuits against Dr. Brian Hyatt alleging that they were held in the Northwest Behavioral Health Unit in Springdale against their will.
A new video obtained by 5NEWS shows a Washington County Sheriff's Office deputy going into the unit with a court order and leaving with VanWhy alongside him.
“I have a court order from Judge Taylor in Circuit court for the immediate release of Mr. William VanWhy,” said the Washington County Deputy.
VanWhy suffered from depression and anxiety, and in March 2022 he agreed to be voluntarily admitted to the inpatient behavioral health unit at Northwest Medical Center, but he says he was not allowed to leave.
“I stayed there for about five days under Dr. Hyatt’s care. I never have seen him in my life. I've never met him even though I was under his care,” said VanWhy.
VanWhy says the doctor billed his insurance for two in-person visits during his stay, for about 45 minutes each time… billing his insurance for tens of thousands of dollars total.
VanWhy’s family had to reportedly hire an attorney and get a court order from a judge in order for him to be released.
“I asked to leave every day for the last three days and they wouldn’t let me leave,” VanWhy said. “You think of a hospital as somewhere where you heal, and doctors as people that 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 with a doctor and only went to one group therapy session during his 5-day stay, saying that “We’d talk about our favorite sonic drink. That was the extent of the therapy that I received there.".
VanWhy says he asked to leave multiple times and asked how long he was staying there, but “They consistently said the average stay was seven to 14 days, and everyone repeated this. It was like they were reading from a script or something."
VanWhy says when the deputy came with the court order, the hospital worker came into the unit demanding that he sign a large stack of paperwork while threatening to bill him without going through insurance if he didn’t sign, but VanWhy refused.
“I honestly felt so threatened at that moment, like my life was at stake. My mental health was at stake. I was extremely scared,” he recalled. “You go to a hospital to get well. Not get worse. After my stay and treatment there —or lack thereof— I definitely fell into a deeper depression,” said VanWhy.
VanWhy can be heard on video saying, “Oh my gosh, you saved my life, you don’t even understand," when he was being 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 that people see the evils that this guy did, and continues to do every day,” he said.
Court records show VanWhy is just one of several former patients who had to get 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 being investigated by multiple agencies including the Drug Enforcement Agency.
In recent months, 5NEWS has reached out to Hyatt multiple times for comment -- which included a visit to his Rogers private practice last week. The staff there said he had no comment on the pending investigations or litigation.
Watch 5NEWS on YouTube.
Download the 5NEWS app on your smartphone:
Stream 5NEWS 24/7 on the 5+ app: How to watch the 5+ app on your streaming device
To report a typo or grammatical error, please email KFSMDigitalTeam@tegna.com and detail which story you're referring to.