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Media Articles - 1990s

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12 January 2003
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Public Hearing Planned on Narconon Chilocco Center

The Daily Oklahoman,
October 4, 1990

Residents who have been trying for more than a year to speak to state officials about a controversial substance-abuse center will get their chance next week.

The Department of Mental Health announced Wednesday it will hold a public hearing in Newkirk on a certification application from Narconon Chilocco New Life Center.

The hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday at Newkirk's high school auditorium.

Since May 1989, residents here have been concerned about Narconon, many saying they fear it will be a recruiting center for the Church of Scientology. Narconon Chilocco is operated by Narconon International, which has ties with the Church of Scientology.

Gary Smith, the president of Narconon Chilocco, said Narconon International plans to bring in experts to speak in support of the center.

He said he could not name the experts, saying only, "They'll be impressive."

Smith said Narconon Chilocco has corrected "over 90 percent" of the deficiencies found by Department of Mental Health inspectors last month.

Most of the deficiencies listed in the on-site review report dealt with 1 administrative and record-keeping procedures.

The state inspection found that documentation of vital signs of patients was not recorded in detoxification reports, and there were no names identifying the person providing the service or the description of the service, the report said.

The report also said there was documentation of staff training for only one of the employees assigned to detoxification duties, and that the documentation of staff training did not include knowledge of the physical signs of withdrawal.

"Things change a bit from state to state," Smith said. "We're used to doing it the way they do it in California, and Oklahoma has got a little bit different rules."

Narconon's responses, along with comments made during the public hearing, will be considered when mental health department officials make their recommendation to the Mental Health Board.

The report showed Narconon Chilocco received a 70 percent grade on required standards, good enough for a provisional license by the mental health department.

A provisional license allows the center to operate, provided it corrects problems and deficiencies within a 90-day period. it must earn 100 percent to earn full licensing.

A staff recommendation could be prepared next week, which will be considered by the State Mental Health Board at its scheduled Oct. 18 meeting.