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Santa Barbara County Grand Jury Blasts Hospital District For Management Of Treatment Facility

A new Santa Barbara County Grand jury is blasting the expensive failure of a publically funded substance abuse treatment facility on the Central Coast.

The Santa Barbara County Grand Jury says it was a well intentioned effort to help people with substance abuse issues. But, in a new report the jury says a series of mistakes and miscalculations by the Lompoc Valley Medical Center District wasted millions of taxpayer dollars.

The District decided to repurpose its old hospital closed for seismic safety reasons as a standalone treatment facility. It got a nearly $19 million dollar state bond to remodel and upgrade the building.

The Champion Center opened in 2014, but at the time didn’t have contracts to provide services to Medicare patients or those covered by insurance. The Grand Jury says it missed occupancy targets to be viable, and was losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a month.

The report says the facility closed in 2017, two and a half years after it opened, losing ten million dollars during its history.

In addition, the district is obligated to repay the bond money, which at the current rate is a million dollars a year through 2042.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral. 
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