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State Moves to Close Detox Center Where SJC Man Died

Jason Redmer was able to get illegal drugs stored in an unlocked attic at the treatment center, which likely caused his death, an investigation reveals.

The state is moving to shut down a Huntington Beach drug detox house following the death earlier this year of a San Juan Capistrano man, Patch has learned.

A state agency has determined that West Coast Detox Center was at least partly responsible for the death of Jason Redmer, who was found unresponsive in his bedroom at the treatment home April 16. By the time emergency workers arrived, it was too late.

The Orange County coroner still hasn't released an autopsy and continues to investigate the death, according to a coroner’s spokeswoman.

However, the state Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs conducted its own investigation and found certain actions – including the storage of unlocked medications and the staff’s failure to seek medical help when it was discovered Redmer had purloined and ingested the drugs – “contributed to or caused” his death.  

  • Read about Jason Redmer's personal story here.

Based on that and instances involving other former clients, the state moved this month to revoke the license of West Coast Detox, which operates out of a home on Yale Circle in Huntington Beach. Executive Director Don Ramsey is fighting the closure.

During the legal proceedings, West Coast is allowed to remain open and receive clients, said Carol Sloan, a spokeswoman for the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs. A date to hear Ramsey’s defense has not yet been set.

By definition, residential drug or alcohol detoxification treatment centers are nonmedical in nature, wrote Millicent Tidwell, acting deputy director for the state Department of Alcohol and Drug Program's Licensing and Certification Division, in making the state’s case.

In a legal document, Tidwell detailed six reasons why West Coast’s license should be revoked:

  • Failure to destroy former clients’ medication and retention of such medications
  • Repeatedly providing medical services to clients
  • Repeatedly failing to refer clients to an appropriate facility for medical services
  • Repeatedly allowing clients to use medication without prescriptions
  • Failing to provide clients with a safe, clean and healthful environment
  • Failure to refer Redmer for medical services when it was discovered he got into the center’s drug cache

The state's case centers around what West Coast Detox staff called the “dead meds,” drugs removed from clients entering the home, Tidwell wrote.

These drugs should have been destroyed, Tidwell wrote. Instead, they were kept unlocked in the garage attic.

Among them were medications defined by law as controlled substances and “dangerous drugs,” such as Librium, a sedative; Phenobarbital, an anti-seizure medication; sedative Temazapam; and narcotic Buprenorphene, a component of a drug known as Suboxone.  

Redmer’s mom, Lynne Redmer of San Juan Capistrano, dropped her son off April 12 and saw the garage. She said it served as an intake area for new clients and had an area with a hospital bed.

Jason Redmer received Librium, Phenobarbital and Temazapam upon his arrival at West Coast, all without a prescription, Tidwell wrote. He saw a doctor his second day there, after consuming several doses. The doctor turned around and prescribed those same medications.

The state found 13 other clients, going back to December 2011, who received various cocktails of drugs before seeing a physician, who often prescribed the drugs after they'd already been given.

On Redmer’s fourth day at West Coast, staff discovered he had removed several pills and prescription bottles from the "dead meds" supply, Tidwell wrote. Workers were able to ascertain that he took “at least” two orange pills, believed to be Suboxone.

Instead of seeking medical treatment, West Coast staff decided to simply monitor Redmer, Tidwell wrote.

West Coast’s “failure to refer [Redmer] to medical services contributed to or caused decedent’s death,” Tidwell wrote.

Patricia Lee December 20, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Thanks for your article. It honors Jason & his family. Patricia Lee
Robert Segroves December 21, 2012 at 04:01 AM
Jason you were a great man. We enjoyed some great times. You are missed. I hope to join a coalition to improve these facilities. Robert Segroves
Penny Arévalo (Editor) December 21, 2012 at 04:04 AM
Thank you! You were a great help in the larger article. It was much appreciated.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) December 21, 2012 at 04:06 AM
RS, let me know if something comes of that idea for a coalition. I know Lynne mentioned many times her concern for others.
Smokey Bear December 21, 2012 at 02:24 PM
That is weird that it is in an old creepy house, where do they sleep? Drug house taking drugs off of pts, then saving them for later? I have heard of aftercare houses, but never this. What if they went in for pot, then cane out addicted to those pills! Plus who would want to live next door to that?
Penny Arévalo (Editor) December 21, 2012 at 04:05 PM
The neighbors there have been fighting it. Being an SJC publication and not a HB publication, I didn't go into too much. About a month before this happened, neighbors went to the City Council to complain. IIRC, one said he saw a used needle nearby and cigarette buttes. By law, cities cannot stop the use of any house for detox centers or sober (recovery) houses as long as they keep the number of residents to six or less.
Michelle Chase May 03, 2013 at 03:25 PM
This is a normal house in a residential area in the suburbs of HB. What goes on inside and in the backyard is creepy! We've met with police and city officials and talked about the goings on, that as neighbors we see from the outside. The house next to the Detox house is a Sober Living facility (house) that has a connecting gate in the backyard. The neighbors behind the houses say it's a smoke out and can't use their backyard because of the smoke. This is all across the street from an elementary school! We as neighbors have tried to rid our neighborhood of this facility. So sorry not soon enough for Jason! This is not the 1st problem there, our Neighborhood Watch has seen people laid out in the driveway, picked up by paramedics. Fire & paramedics have been called many times and taken residents away! I'm sure there are records of problems that have occurred! This has been going on for years. We've only learned of this house, but understand they have leased many houses in our neighborhood for over 30 years! We were surprised to learn of this as we have lived here for that many years!! So sorry for the loss of Jason Redmer.

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