Clients of shuttered private addiction rehab centre speak out
CALGARY — It’s been almost a week since Addiction Recovery Network, in central Alberta, was ordered to close by the Ministry of Health and now some clients have come forward to CTV, describing their experience in the privately-run treatment centre.
The clients have asked for their identity to be concealed due to concerns about their privacy.
One says a convoy of vehicles came down the road toward Mountain Aire Lodge, in Clearwater County, on Oct. 22 and in addition to police officers, roughly 15 to 20 therapists and counsellors were at the scene to handle the dozen or so patients at the facility.
“It was fairly chaotic,” said one client.
“But at the same time, they were very professional about what they did and it seemed they prepared really well. They just maintained the calm of the people and made sure everybody had water and the necessities for life which these people weren’t providing.”
Alberta’s health minister ordered the facility to cease operating after receiving concerns about “poor safety, quality of care and inappropriate financial practices.”
Inspection reports conducted by Alberta Health Services found safety issues with the building that weren’t remedied before patients moved in on June 30.
An inspector visited the facility on July 5 and found water that may be unsafe for human consumption. It hadn’t been tested for bacteria prior to opening to the public after flooding in 2013.
Another report shows in some of the buildings, smoke alarms were not present or working. There was water damage in others, and no cold or hot water in some rooms, or even working toilets.
“The water was a little murky,” one client told CTV.
“We were told that they were working on getting a new well in place and I did see some people coming to work on the well but it didn’t change the fact that the water remained constantly foul.”
CTV News spoke to John Haines, the self-described interventionist who runs Addiction Recovery Network. In a phone interview from Ontario, where he lives, he says there were well issues, which had not been disclosed to him before the clients moved in. A new well had to be drilled and during that time, clients couldn’t drink the tap water, but Haines said bottled water was available.
But two clients told CTV they didn’t always have clean drinking water and had to buy their own.
In addition to water issues, a client says the menu provided wasn’t well-balanced.
“I never saw a vegetable for a week. I was fed hot dogs and Eggos out of a box that was wrapped in tin foil. The tin foil itself cost more than the food they provided.”
The clients said they paid $20,000 to $30,000 for treatment and alleged they were never provided promised amenities such as massages, yoga, pool and a spa.
Another health inspection report from AHS shows that the pump house on the property was not fit for human habitation and there was an order that occupants vacate by July 22.
Haines says no one ever lived in the pump house.
Despite four health inspection reports, Haines maintains he was blindsided by what he calls a “police raid.”
He says the issues identified by AHS have been fixed. He says his clients were quite happy and didn’t want to leave the facility.
“I’m telling you the clients were traumatized. They were scared and crying,” said Haines.
“Half of them would not leave because they said we are providing good care and they want to stay but they were told they couldn’t stay and were forced to leave.”
AHS says it has been monitoring the facility since July, and on Monday added it had no choice but to shut it down.
“While a number of correction actions have been taken, the most recent inspection on Sept. 23 found critical violations which presented imminent risk to the health of individuals receiving care at the facility, resulting in decisive closure action,” AHS said in a statement.