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State revokes licenses for Costa Mesa recovery centers

The decision brought an end to the months-long efforts toward revocation of the centers, which were operated by Newport-based Morningside Recovery.

September 25, 2012|By Lauren Williams

A state agency has permanently revoked the licenses of three Costa Mesa recovery centers operated by Newport Beach-based Morningside Recovery.

Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs acting Director Michael S. Cunningham on Thursday adopted a recommendation to revoke the licenses.

The decision brought an end to the months-long efforts toward revocation.

The ADP began the process to revoke the licenses in 2011, citing, among other issues, improper handling of prescriptions and their providing of medical services to 70 patients, which was beyond the scope of their license to treat only five.

On Aug. 17, a judge handed down the recommendation that found cause to revoke the residential facilities, said ADP spokeswoman Suzi Rupp.

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A statement from Morningside said it does not provide any treatment at its sober-living homes and therefore doesn't need residential treatment licenses.

"For almost a year, Morningside has made clear to its clients, staff and the public, that no matter what the outcome of the May 2012 administrative hearing … Morningside had no intent to provide detoxification services or to once again utilize these residential treatment licenses," the statement said.

Under state and federal laws, sober-living homes, where residents essentially live together without using drugs or alcohol, do not need licenses. They are also protected by fair-housing laws and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to Newport Beach City Attorney Aaron Harp, city lawyers and Morningside representatives are expected back in court Friday for a hearing. Newport is seeking a court order that prohibits the rehab center from violating city law, Harp said.

Earlier this month, Morningside was found to be a public nuisance, according to Harp.

Morningside was featured this month in a state report on "rogue rehabs." The report told the story of Brandon Jacques, a 20-year-old who went to Morningside for its advertised "dual-diagnosis" program that could treat his bulimia and alcoholism.

Jacques' family is suing Morningside for allegedly neglecting to monitor his eating or send him to a hospital when his electrolyte levels became dangerously low.

Morningside has maintained Jacques was in the care of a different facility when he went into cardiac arrest. He later died.

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'No mobile-phone phobia'

Last week, Morningside announced its latest program to treat those suffering from "nomophobia," or "no mobile-phone phobia," which is the fear of being without a mobile phone or losing one.

The program does not fall under the purview of the ADP, which oversees addiction programs, Rupp said.

"If it's a phobia; it's really not called an addiction," Rupp said. "The only other addiction we oversee is gambling."

lauren.williams@latimes.com

Twitter: @lawilliams30

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