CHILOCCO - A decision to certify a controversial drug and

alcohol treatment center - operated by Narconon on Indian

land here - has been postponed indefinitely, state Mental

Health Department spokeswoman Rosemary Brown said Tuesday.

"We've never encountered a program that had this much public

interest," remarked Brown, noting that more than 30 people

testified at an emotional public hearing in Ponca City a

week ago.

The delay will give the state Board of Mental Health and

Substance Abuse Services more time to review the transcript

from the four-hour hearing as well as "other documents

related to the program's operation," Brown said.

The board had been scheduled to consider Narconon's certification

Thursday. A new date has not yet been set, she said.

A critical issue will be whether Narconon's approach to

treatment, which emphasizes saunas and vitamins, "falls

within generally accepted treatment practices," Brown said.

Among the deficiencies cited by the Mental Health Department

in a September audit was a lack of documentation that Narconon

staff members take a patient's vital signs at least every

six hours during detoxification, as required by the state.

"The documentation of staff training did not include knowledge

of the physical signs of withdrawal," the report noted.

Narconon has filed "a plan of correction," Brown said.

Much of the opposition at the public hearing emphasized

Narconon's ties to the Church of Scientology, labeled a

"mind-control cult" by Newkirk Herald-Journal editor Bob


Narconon's method of treatment was formulated by the late

L. Ron Hubbard, who founded the Church of Scientology and

wrote science fiction.

"The Church of Scientology is a supporter of Narconon -

we welcome this support as of any group," Narconon President

Gary Smith said, predicting that Narconon's center at the

remodeled and previously abandoned Chilocco Indian School

site "will soon be one of the largest programs in the world."

The 75-bed facility, located on leased Indian land, has

been operating without certification or licensing since