SRS Investigating Wichita Drug Rehab Center

By: Jared Cerullo Email
By: Jared Cerullo Email

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Friday, October 1, 2010

The executive director of the local drug rehab program, Parallax, is under state investigation after serious allegations involving mismanagement of millions of dollars.

The program provides services for drug and alcohol addicts. Parallax has been in business in Wichita for nearly 40 years and now the executive director appears to have been ordered out.

Parallax operates two locations in Wichita. One is a live-in treatment center which people go to for full-time treatment options. The other is an out-patient coffee shop which provides recovering addicts a place to go to mingle with others in similar situations.

"They are one of the biggest providers in the state and our main goal is to keep those doors open and have those clients served," explained Parallax Board President Danny Bardezbain, a former Sedgwick County Sheriff's Major. "They do provide a vital service in the community and in the state."

After complaints received from former employees, the state department of social and rehabilitation services stepped in this week and began the investigation. In fact, we spoke with seven former employees Friday. All say Executive Director Milt Fowler signed off on therapy groups that weren't conducted by credentialed employees.

"Milt was the orchestrator. He informed his staff underneath him to inform the employees to do these type of things."

The former employees requested anonymity, saying they've already received threats for blowing the whistle on Parallax.

Many of the allegations involve so-called "dapping." That's when just about anybody would lead therapy groups if licensed, credentialed counselors were absent. Parallax then billed the state for those services.

"It would be just a hall monitor. It might be a janitor. It was anybody that would fill in," explained one former employee.

Other former employees agreed, but as board president, Bardezbain calls Parallax a good organization with a long history in Wichita.

"You could find people that would say it has saved their lives," said Bardezbain. "Parallax does a number of things. They have inpatient and outpatient programs. They have this residential facility here. They are the only detox unit in the state."

All seven former employees we spoke to Friday say they don't want Parallax to close.

"The sole purpose is to get the people out of there that are doing wrong," said another former employee. "They're not helping the people that need the help. They're actually hurting them in the long run. We don't want the doors closed. It actually could be a great facility."

Parallax is largely a taxpayer funded program. So far this year, the organization has received just under a million dollars from Medicaid and a managed care organization contracted through S-R-S. Parallax has also received about $385,000 this year from state liquor tax revenue paid to the City of Wichita.

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