SACRAMENTO, CA - Four clients of a Riverside County residential drug treatment center died over a two-year period.
According to a California Senate investigation, it brings to light California's Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs' inability to enforce its rules.
Current state law does not permit California's several hundred residential drug-treatment centers to provide medical treatment. But a new report by the Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes, highlighted repeated cases of centers advertising medical care and accepting seriously ill patients.
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Client deaths at "A Better Tomorrow Program" on Irongate Way in Murrieta happened in 2008, 2009 and 2010. State regulators absolved "A Better Tomorrow" of any wrongdoing in the March 2008 death and did not investigate two more deaths in 2009 until after the fourth death in 2010.
In November 2010, the state moved to shut down the Murrieta facility, but the house in which the program operated already had been foreclosed upon.
According to the report, the Living Center in Modesto repeatedly admitted clients it was not equipped to handle. It admitted a client who was dizzy and unable to walk, the client later died at a hospital.
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The treatment facilities mentioned in this story did not respond to News10's request for comment. Many have been shut down by the state or are under new management.
The report recommends that state lawmakers consider allowing medical care in residential facilities providing detox services, the policy of nine other large states. In addition, the report recommends legislation requiring investigations when a treatment center client dies.
The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs has improved its enforcement of residential treatment programs in the past two years, according to the report. But the department is set to dissolve July 1, 2013.
In a statement, the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs said:
The department acknowledges the critical issues addressed in this report and takes it seriously. We remain committed to protecting the health and safety of all clients served in the facilities we license and will take all appropriate action within our authority to do so.