Wellness Center loses certification

"SUQUAMISH - The Suquamish Wellness Program's state certification has been revoked based on the results of an investigation by the Department of Social and Health Services, Department of Alcohol and Substance Abuse. The investigation, conducted Aug 14-15, found that the Wellness program failed to report patients who did not comply with court-ordered treatment. This occurred on seven occasions within a 12-month period in 2000-2001. A letter from DSHS dated Aug. 29, to Chuck Wagner, Wellness Program director, states that a fine will be issued, and because three or more non-compliances have been found within a year and that the program will be shut down within 28 days. The Suquamish Wellness Program may no longer provide DUI assessments, alcohol/drug information school, intensive outpatient and outpatient chemical dependency services. The revocation would take effect 28 days from when Wagner received the letter. The Wellness Center also has 28 days to appeal the decision, which at this point seems unlikely based on the tribe's conversation with Department of Alcohol and Substance Abuse representatives. But there is also a silver lining in the cloud of controversy, which has surrounded the Suquamish Wellness Center for the past few months. The tribe is looking at revamping its program and starting a new program, which will be certified by us, said Ken Stark, DASA director. Just how long this will take, Stark said, depends on how fast the Suquamish Tribe takes to rebuild its program. Linda Holt, who oversees the Wellness Program as part of the tribe's health and human services division declined to comment on the notification. She said the Suquamish Tribal Council (of which she is also vice president) has not reviewed the information. She said a statement from the tribe will be issued. The Suquamish Wellness Program has received $50,000 per biennium from DASA to provide drug and alcohol treatment. The investigation was launched in part because Stark and his staff saw newspaper articles concerning the Kitsap County prosecuting attorney's own investigation of the Suquamish Wellness Program. According to Stark in the past 10 years less than five drug and alcohol treatment facilities they have contracts with have had their certifications revoked by DSHS. It is the exception not the rule, he said. "

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