Citizens unhappy with detox facility decision, which they believe puts children at risk
Early last year, Camas residents in the Dorothy Fox school neighborhood were shocked to learn that a drug recovery and detox facility was being proposed in their neighborhood, right next to the elementary school. Tranquility Partners, LLC was eventually granted a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to open their Discover Recovery 15-bed inpatient facility next to the school.
Neighbors had quickly researched information and contacted members of the Camas City Council, saying this was the wrong location for a rehabilitation facility, next to where children attended school and played. City staff had determined members of the City Council would need to make the decision, only to reverse themselves two months later, giving the decision to a Clark County hearings examiner. The school district and the teacher’s union had remained silent on the matter.
The residents created the Dorothy Fox Safety Alliance (DFSA). Camas resident Brian Lewallen agreed to be their pro bono attorney to represent the citizens’ concerns. “It appears that city staff may have done an end-run around the council in the attempt to find an easier path for the approval through the Clark County hearings examiner,” Lewallen said. “Now we have a detox center next to Dorothy Fox Elementary.”
A lawsuit was filed last June by the DFSA. The case was decided seven months later. The city and their lawyers won, successfully fighting to allow the Discover Recovery facility to proceed.
In a September legal filing, DFSA informed the court about many concerns that were not addressed at the original hearing. The city was accused of slow-walking public records requests with vital information, regarding citizens’ concerns. Documents provided during the formal hearing included the following.
“Police reports from the Long Beach Facility include horrific incidents over the past two years since it opened its doors, such as a patient who left that facility AMA (against medical advice) in a meth psychosis, another patient having a ‘psychotic break,’ and ‘getting to be violent’ outside the facility, and several patients with suicidal and/or self-harm tendencies who fled the facility into the Long Beach community without notice and without money or identification.”
“While we were able to present some evidence during the hearing, we were not provided the complete story before the close of the administrative process,” Lewallen said. “Unfortunately, a Land Use Petition Act case lawsuit can only adjudicate what was raised at the hearing before the hearing examiner.”
The citizens didn’t have all their requested public disclosure documents. Camas later produced requested documents, but it was too late for them to be used.
According to Lewallen, there are many troubling facts that have since been revealed. These new facts only add to the concerns citizens living near Dorothy Fox have regarding the facility, the management team, and the patients.
At the top of concerns is the facility’s medical director, Dr. Martin Klos. The Oregon Medical Board (OMB) opened an investigation into Klos on June 1, 2020 regarding the prescribing practices for controlled substances. Eleven months later a second investigation was opened for the same issue; followed by a third investigation commencing in July 2021. None of these investigations were disclosed by Discover Recovery prior to or during the CUP hearing process.
The OMB found that Klos had engaged in conduct that violated the Medical Practice Act. Of special concern was the finding that he was “prescribing controlled substances without following accepted procedures for examination of patients or prescribing controlled substances without following accepted procedures for record keeping.”
On Dec. 21, 2021, as a result of the three separate investigations, Klos agreed to surrender his Oregon medical license. He also agreed he may not reapply for at least two years. The final agreement was dated January 6, 2022.
Evidence also includes a whistleblower complaint against Discovery Recovery. A nurse practitioner in Oregon who treated patients transferred from Discover Recovery’s Long Beach facility, filed the complaint Sept. 2019. She alleged substandard care for the patients, which she described as “bordering on abuse.” One patient supposedly had never seen a medical doctor, while others indicated they had only seen a doctor one time. There were indications of improper administration of medications, overprescribing, potential diversion of medication, and poor documentation thereof.
The CUP application to Camas by Tranquility Partners indicated they were requesting permission to run a 15-bed inpatient facility. Yet an application to the Washington State Department of Health in June 2021, included a request for 1,400 hours of outpatient mental health services. These included 700 hours of individual mental health treatment, and another 700 hours of group therapy mental health services.
Additionally, they are requesting state approval for 100 hours of “family therapy” each year, and another 250 hours of Psychiatric medication and medication support services. In total, there appear to be 1,750 hours of outpatient services being requested.
In their initial application to the city of Camas, Tranquility Partners had requested permission to offer only inpatient services, and for only up to 15 persons. How many drug patients would be coming to the “group therapy” sessions at the Camas facility, located right next to Dorothy Fox school?
With 700 hours of group therapy per year, that would equal close to three hours a day, five days per week, for 50 weeks a year. How many people constitute a “group”? Is a group session one hour, and therefore three separate groups of an unknown number of people per day? Then adding in the potential for an additional three outpatients per day coming for individual counseling.
That is the potential for a significant number of drug addicted people to be coming to the facility, certainly, far more than the 15 total approved in-residence patients.
All this raises additional questions regarding how many vehicles would be visiting the Discover Recovery facility each day and each week. If in fact Discover Recovery is going to provide outpatient care, Lewallen pointed out that there are traffic impact considerations, none of which were considered by the city in the initial application or hearing.
“The current permit the hearing examiner approved does not allow for outpatient services,” Lewallen said. “They must be required to come back seeking city approval for what they are requesting.”
A review of the April 28, 2021 Notice of Decision document from Sarah Fox shows the following, on behalf of the city. Item E, 2 states in part “The applicant shall not provide out-patient care or provide on-site services to patients who are not currently residing on the site.”
Yet six weeks later, Discover Recovery applied to the Washington Department of Health, seeking a permit for both in-patient and out-patient services. This appears to be a violation of the approved decision by the city of Camas and the hearing examiner.
A Feb. 8, 2021 email exchange between city employees Bryan Rachal, Phil Bourquin, and Sarah Fox states in part the following.
“The new owners are proposing a 15-bed convalescent home that will provide full-time care and treatment for individuals seeking to recover from disorders in the abuse of drugs, alcohol, and other substances. It will provide 24-hour care and is not a day facility.”
A few hours later, Rachal asks if “we don’t like the wording?”
A few minutes later, Rachal sends Bourquin an email asking: “How about this: The new owners are proposing a 15-bed convalescent home that will provide 24-hour care and treatment for individuals.”
An email was then sent to members of the City Council and posted to Next Door for citizens. The wording matches the second, briefer statement, omitting the information about 15 individuals “seeking to recover from disorders in the abuse of drugs, alcohol, and other substances.” They also removed the notice that the new owners would not be allowed a “day facility.”
The April 28, 2021 “Notice of Decision Discovery Recovery” from the Camas Community Development Department specifically stating the approval being given to “convert the Fairgate Assisted Living facility to a 15-bed convalescent home.”
In subsequent communication with concerned citizens, the Discover Recovery facility was painted as caring for white collar drug or alcohol addicts, all of whom would be “in-patient.” Citizens were assured there would be plenty of security and the patients would not be leaving unaccompanied.
Additional documentation showed that Klos was initially removed from his job as medical director for Discover Recovery at the end of August 2021. Who is filling that position now? According to his online resume, Klos was re-hired as a Tranquility Partners’ consultant for Discover Recovery expansion. This was one month after he was terminated as “director of inpatient rehabilitation” for their Long Beach facility.
The application to the Washington DOH states the applicant will notify the department if changes occur in any of the information provided. As of Jan. 4, 2021, they certified that “no person named in the application has had a license or certification for a treatment service denied, revoked, or suspended.”
It appears Klos agreed to have his license suspended for two years nearly a year after the application was submitted.
Neither the state DOH nor Tranquility Partners has responded to email requests from Clark County Today for information.
Informative update. Neighborhood kids walk or bike to and from school, and play and have soccer practice and games in the public park adjacent to the “15-bed convalescent home that will provide full-time care and treatment for individuals seeking to recover from disorders in the abuse of drugs, alcohol, and other substances. It will provide 24-hour care and is not a day facility.”
I hope the city will duly consider the safety young people. Expanding to non-permitted uses is not a show of good faith.