Investigation Into Deaths At McAlester Rehab Facility Continues
McALESTER, Oklahoma - The four deaths at the Narconon Arrowhead facility in Pittsburg County are under increasing scrutiny. The Pittsburg County Sheriff and the State Department of Mental Health and Substance abuse are both investigating the facility.
The first death of a patient at the Narconon Arrowhead facility came in 2009. Kaysie Werninck's death certificate shows she died of sepsis and pneumonia. Her parents sued Narconon saying the people who worked there weren't trained to recognize she was sick and didn't get her help in a timely manner. Then "neglected or refused to fill Kaysie's antibiotic prescription."
Then, last October, Gabriel Graves died at the facility. An autopsy could not determine a cause of death. Those who were with him at Narconon before his death say they saw no reason why he would have died.
"He was very excited about getting home to his family. When I heard the he died it shocked me," said a former patient that wishes to remain anonymous.
Autopsy reports are still pending for the two latest deaths.
Hillary Holton died in April. Her obituary says she died of complications of pneumonia and Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, a condition that requires daily medication. An attorney representing her family says she died within two days of entering the facility. They are considering a lawsuit.
Stacey Murphy died last week. Stacy's father says Narconon employees knew Stacy was on the verge of an overdose, but instead of providing her with the medical attention she needed, his daughter was put in a room and left to die.
"They did not call us as parents. They did not call a medical team," said Robert Murphy. "There was a shift change apparently at 7 o'clock. Nobody found her until 9:20."
Here is a statement from the CEO of Narconon, Gary W. Smith:
"Out of respect for the law and to remain in full compliance with 42 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) which are laws specifically designed to protect past and present clients or their family members right to privacy, I cannot disclose any information about past clients."
"It is always deeply saddening when drug addiction takes a life or destroys a family. It hurts when a young person passes away before their time. For the family the pain of losing a loved one to addiction is unimaginable and our deepest sympathy goes out to those families. Our prayers are with them. For those who have committed their lives to saving people from drug and alcohol addiction the loss of not being able to help a person overcome addiction takes an emotional toll on us as well. It is a sad day for everyone when something as unfortunate and devastating as this occurs."
"There are very precise local and state guidelines established with law enforcement and state agencies that come into play if and when there are any critical incidents concerning a person in our, or any other healthcare provider's, care. In the event that these circumstances arise, Narconon Arrowhead fully cooperates with these agencies."
"Narconon Arrowhead is an established Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Center that has been in operation in Oklahoma since 1992. The Center employs 190 rehabilitation and nursing staff and has serviced over 10,000 people in its rehabilitation program since it was first licensed and opened its doors over twenty years ago."
"Narconon has remained accredited by the nationally recognized accreditation agency, CARF (Commission on The Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) for 20 years and is certified by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse to deliver non-medical detoxification services."