Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Three kids pulled from Riverview mental health facility

TAMPA — Amid reports of violence between patients, the state Department of Children and Families pulled three kids from a Riverview children's mental health facility last month and plans to remove a dozen more.

An increase in the number of incident reports filed by the Tampa Bay Academy, a 24-acre campus of treatment facilities and live-in duplexes at 12012 Boyette Road, led officials to start an investigation, said Nick Cox, the regional director for the DCF.

"We are concerned about the amount of reports we have seen on children-on-children issues," Cox said.

The incidents include reports of physical and sexual altercations between patients as well as physical altercations between patients and members of the staff, he said.

During the investigation, a therapist also was found to be working without a license, he said.

In late 2008, the academy temporarily lost a state license after an investigation at the time found assaults and lapses in supervision.

About 40 children — the majority not placed by the DCF — live at the facility now.

"We basically ordered that we want all our kids out of there," Cox said Monday.

Three children from the Statewide Inpatient Psychiatric Program, for patients with serious behavioral problems, were removed immediately, he said. Twelve more children staying in the facility's group homes will be removed in the coming weeks.

"We are not talking broken bones or health issues. The kids are not in physical danger," he said. But there are concerns about the quality of supervision at the facility, he said.

"It is common that children at these locations have problems with staff," Cox said. "But we don't want to see inappropriate reactions from staff that could harm the children."

The facility's license is intact, but it cannot accept new patients while the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration performs an investigation, said Shelisha Durden, an agency spokeswoman.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office also has started an investigation, Cox said, and is helping the DCF investigation.

This is not the first time the facility has come under fire.

In December 2008, the health care administration agency suspended the residential treatment program's license after investigators found evidence of sexual assaults, a fearful atmosphere and a dangerous lack of proper supervision.

To reopen, the facility began again from the ground up — retaining only 20 of more than 150 employees, and changing its procedures.

Attempts to reach Tampa Bay Academy officials Monday afternoon were unsuccessful. Messages left at the academy weren't returned.

Families of patients who are not involved with the DCF will still receive a letter from the department informing them about the investigation and offering help in relocating to another facility if needed, Cox said.

Three kids pulled from Riverview mental health facility 09/13/10 [Last modified: Monday, September 13, 2010 10:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)


    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.