Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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There Are Voices To Be Heard Before the Vacated LSHA Hospital Is Gifted To Meridian Behavioral Health Care

Meridian Behavorial Healh Care: Voices to be heard
Photo: Alena Shekhovtcova via Pexels | Columbia County Observer graphic

There are voices to be heard regarding the gifting of the vacated Lake City Lake Shore Hospital to Meridian Behavioral Healthcare. The voices of those being treated or have been treated by Meridian or their family members.

Meridian Behavioral Health Care has been around for a long time. Recently, Lakeshore Hospital Authority board member Steven Douglas said that Meridian was the board’s last chance to provide a company to operate the vacated Lake Shore Hospital.

The Governor's Lake Shore Hospital Board is meeting Monday evening, November 13, at 5:15 pm. Ed.

Meridian CEO Don Savoie has had a long career in mental health care, but as a bean counter on the finance side of the health care business and working with software systems to improve medical records to increase revenue, while necessary to maintain a business, is not working with clients who have needs which cannot be solved by counting beans.

Meridian has claimed it can better serve the community by expanding into the vacated Lake Shore Hospital Authority’s downtown Lake City hospital.

If this facility is going to be handed over to help with the mental health needs of the community, then we need real people who give real reviews about this facility before the Authority gives it away.

One is hard-pressed to find reviews from real people regarding Meridian. Yes sir, their website is slick. But where are the reviews from real clients?

I am one of those clients. In a nutshell, Meridian sucks.

I was a patient of Meridian from 2018-2021. I was warned against going there by members of the community, but it was my only option.

I was Baker acted in 2019 after the passing of my father. His loss greatly affected me, and I was feeling unstable. I reached out for help. The police came; they told me they could Baker Act me and take me to Meridian. I agreed.

I was shocked when I arrived. The Lake City facility was co-ed, and men walked into my room. The facility was small and overcrowded, and the overall cleanliness left much to be desired. Security was lacking, and communication with the staff was difficult to nonexistent.

A 72-hour Baker Act turned into an eight-day stay. I was denied my daily medication and was forced to take medication I was not prescribed. Three days passed with no explanation as to why I was not being released or seeing a judge. I became extremely upset, and with my daily medication cut off, I started having panic attacks.

I was advised that I would delay my release if I did not act a certain way around the supervising nurses. Finally, on the eighth day of my confinement and without any explanation as to why I was held so long, I was released.

After the Baker Act, the Meridian abuse continued. I was refused treatment plans, which are required by law to be reviewed, agreed upon, and signed by the patient receiving care. Client abandonment of a person with borderline personality disorder and the failure to give notice is required for those on Medicare. Meridian's false diagnosis codes on my Medicare claims were blamed on the billing department. Meridian eventually admitted it was the provider's fault and promised to correct the codes, which never happened. There were numerous emails back and forth between Meridian providers and me. Included in the emails were the vice president of outpatient services, therapists, and the communications director.

As soon as I began complaining, leaving reviews, and questioning the upper management, I was immediately cut off from all communication. The four groups in which I participated and desperately needed were cut down to one a week.

One month later, I was presented with a behavioral contract written by the VP of Outpatient Services. Since I refused to sign, I was immediately discharged from Meridian.

I found a new therapist who updated my treatment plan and allowed me to view and receive a copy. It stated I needed to remain in treatment for six more months.

I was given the run around when I tried to get my records from Meridian. When I did receive them, they were in disarray, missing time periods, and contained false information.

I have been trying for three years to get my voice heard. So here it is.

I am urging anyone in the community or who has had horrible experiences with Meridian to please speak up.

I have yet to hear anything positive about Meridian’s Lake City facility. Meridian does provide space anywhere to leave real patient reviews.

It is time to let this community know who they really are!

The clock is ticking, and the Lake Shore Hospital Authority Board and citizens need to know how they treat their clients.

I know it is a hard thing to do.

The Lake Shore Hospital Authority needs to be aware of who they would be allowing to take over the community's mental health care.

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