Narconon Files Appeal To Operate Center

By Michael McNutt, Enid Bureau

Daily Oklahoman,
January 16, 1992

A drug and alcohol treatment center denied state approval has filed court papers asking a judge to overturn the state action and allow it to operate. Lawyers for Narconon International, which operates Narconon Chilocco New Life Center north of Newkirk, on Friday filed a petition for a judicial review in the Ponca City division of Kay County District Court.

No hearing date has been set.

In their 103 page document, lawyers ask District Judge Neal Beekman to set aside the Dec. 13 decision by the Oklahoma Board of Mental health and Substance Abuse Services to deny certification for Narconon Chilocco's treatment program.

Board members said the center's treatment program, which relies heavily on vitamins and a sauna and exercise program, was experimental and medically unsafe.

Board members also ordered that Narconon Chilocco be closed by Dec. 23, but lawyers appealed the board's action. That appeal kept the facility open. However, the center is prohibited from admitting new patients. The center, which sought approval for 75 beds, had 27 patients on Dec. 13, and 16 last week.

Lawyers for Narconon Chilocco last week were unsuccessful in getting a court order to allow the center to admit a former patient who they said needed follow-up treatment.

Meanwhile, a Feb. 27 hearing has been scheduled in Ponca City to take up the issue of a petition filed in 1990 in Kay County to close the facility. District Attorney Joe Wideman is expected to make oral arguments during that hearing on why the facility should be closed.

The case has been pending since 1990 because the judge postponed acting on the application to close the drug treatment center until after the state mental health board ruled on its certification application.

Narconon Chilocco began accepting patients in February 1990, and applied for state certification only after state officials sought a court order to close it.

Lawyers for the treatment center then tied up the process in the court system for about a year, forcing the board to hire an independent inspector to evaluate the program.

Mental health department staffers were allowed to get back into the certification process four months ago. Staff recommended denial of the center's application.