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Drug Center Will Start Program for Teen-Age Addicts

July 16, 1987|SHELDON ITO | Times Staff Writer

Tuum Est, a well-known drug rehabilitation center in Venice, has transferred 27 adult patients to its facility in Turlock to make way for a new program to treat teen-age drug abusers, according to a spokesman for Phoenix House, which took over the financially troubled center last year.

"It is largely a financial problem," said Dan Langdon, a spokesman for the Phoenix House Foundation in New York. Los Angeles County's "budget support of this (adult) program and programs like it is just not there."

Phoenix House will convert the building at 503 Ocean Front Walk to a 40-bed adolescent facility, which will accept its first patients next month.

The county, citing a pressing need for adolescent drug centers, has awarded Phoenix House a $750,000 contract to run the new program, said Irma Strantz, director of the county's drug abuse program.

The county will continue to pay for the 27 patients in Turlock, a city in the Central Valley near Modesto, until next June, she added.

The highly praised adult program at Tuum Est--Latin for "it's up to you"--has suffered financially since 1984, when the facility underwent $1 million in earthquake safety and renovation work.

Last year, its board of directors voted to transfer the program, which began in 1970, and its facilities to Phoenix House, which operates drug abuse centers nationwide.

But the financial troubles continued when funding from the state and contributions from patients fell through, Mohr said.

Despite raising about $250,000 for the program, mostly from corporations and foundations, Phoenix House still faced a $200,000 deficit, she added.

The decision to end the adult program bothers Bill McNally, one of the founders of Tuum Est.

"The fact is that we now don't have an adult drug treatment program in Venice," said McNally, who opposed the Phoenix House takeover last year. "And the people of Venice are the ones who created that program."

Mohr said Phoenix House, which also operates drug centers in Orange County, San Diego and the New York City area, will look for another site to house the adolescent program so that it can restart the adult program in Venice.

"We hope that . . . we can find another site in Los Angeles County and have both an adolescent and adult program," she said. "If not, we can no longer have an adult program."

McNally, who organized an ad hoc committee last year to oppose the Phoenix House takeover, said he is not taking similar action this time because the county has already approved the new program.

Meanwhile, the need for an adult drug program in Venice remains, he said.

"The community created (Tuum Est) and the board of directors gave it away," he said. "And the drug problems are still here."

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