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Human service center loses substance abuse treatment license

JAMESTOWN - South Central Human Service Center's license to provide substance abuse treatment will be suspended starting Monday, leaving some people unsure how to continue treatment.

The 90-day suspension only involves substance abuse cases and does not affect treatment for other mental health issues, said JoAnne Hoesel, director of the Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse with North Dakota Human Services.

Hoesel would not comment on the problems that lead to the suspension.

"We need to look at how we review cases and documentation," said Alex Schweitzer, Department of Human Services superintendent of institutions. "We are looking at the center. Are we organized properly to see these things don't happen again?"

Schweitzer said the substance abuse program currently serves 63 clients.

"Services won't stop," he said. "Between the State Hospital, other regional human service centers and private addiction counselors we will treat everyone that needs treatment."

Regional human service centers are located in Fargo, Devils Lake, Grand Forks, Minot, Williston and Dickinson.

The Jamestown center serves the counties of Wells, Foster, Griggs, Stutsman, Barnes, Logan, LaMoure, McIntosh and Dickey.

Adam Kennedy found out about the license suspension when he went to SCHSC for class Tuesday. The 38-year-old Spiritwood man had completed four weeks of a six-week course, which he was court-ordered to take after an arrest for driving under the influence, he said.

The situation seemed to be as shocking to his counselor as it was to the people in his class, Kennedy said.

"A paperwork filing violation is what we were told," he said, but he didn't have specific details.

Kennedy is now unsure if he'll have to restart his six-week treatment, and he doesn't know if he'll have to pay for the four weeks of treatment he completed, he said.

"They really didn't have any answers or solutions, but I understand there may not be any at this point," Kennedy said.

Kennedy was taking the class in a core group of five people, most of whom were there because of DUIs, he said. He's concerned about restarting treatment, if that's what he ends up having to do.

"Now you've got to go deal with another group of strangers ... you go through a lot of personal stuff in these groups," he said.

Kennedy said he was assured that SCHSC would work to help him and others in similar situations, but "they couldn't guarantee that we wouldn't have to start (treatment) all over again."

And as far as accessing treatment at other regional human service centers, Kennedy said it's sometimes difficult enough for him to get a ride to Jamestown for class.

"There weren't a whole lot of answers," he said.

The substance abuse treatment program at SCHSC currently employs four people, Schweitzer said. Full staff for the program would be eight full-time positions.

"There will be no layoffs," Schweitzer said, in reference to the suspension. "Those people will do intake and refer any new patients to other providers during the period of the suspension."