Pubdate: Fri, 17 Dec 2004
Source: Cape Argus (South Africa)
Copyright: 2004 Cape Argus.
Author: Jeanne Viall


Forest Lake Clinic, the addiction treatment centre in Plettenberg Bay, has
closed its doors because of financial difficulties.

Manager Louis Oelofse confirmed yesterday that the centre had been placed
under liquidation.

This follows the closure of Dot's Plot, the secondary treatment centre
attached to Forest Lake Clinic. A former patient, who recently left the
centre, said Dot's Plot patients were then moved to Forest Lake.

"We knew something was then also up (at Forest Lake Clinic). The kitchen
staff told us they hadn't been paid in November," said the man

Closing raises moral and ethical dilemmas'

However, two weeks ago patients were told that everything was fine and the
centre was not going to close.

"I phoned there on Wednesday," he said, "and I was told patients had been
sent home on Tuesday."

Oelofse confirmed the staff were not paid in November.

"It seems the overseas guy who was investing in Forest Place stopped
investing... I tried to pay all the creditors. But then there was no more

"The patients were our priority. The dedicated staff decided to remain to
contact families, get people into homes or other rehabilitation centres."

He said he was unsure who had brought the liquidation order, or what the
future held.

Dot's Plot was one of the early rehab centres offering secondary care. It
was established in the late 1980s when "Dot" died and stipulated that the
land be used for the benefit of addicts.

One of its founding members was Russell Unterslak and originally Dot's Plot
was associated with Houghton House in Johannesburg. Forest Lake Clinic was
later started as a primary addiction treatment centre attached to Dot's
Plot. The Houghton House connection was later severed.

Each six-week programme costs around R23 000.

The centres were apparently bought by Unterslak and a German investor in
April this year, and they took over a large debt at the same time.

Then in June Unterslak died after a heart attack. It is unclear what has
happened to the German investor. Rumours are that the centre will close down
for a few weeks, but will reopen under a different name.

The executor of Unterslak's estate, Arno Erasmus, could not be contacted for

Bronwyn Myers, a scientist at the Medical Research Council's alcohol and
drug research centre, said Forest Lake and Dot's Plot were not yet
registered with the departments of health or social services.

The question of registration of rehab centres has been a thorny issue,
especially with the proliferation of treatment centres over the past 10
years, and few operating guidelines.

"When a treatment centre closes, it raises moral and ethical dilemmas.
Patients need to know the dangers of unregistered facilities," said Myers.

"There is often nowhere to send patients. Most treatment facilities are
full," she said. "There is a huge treatment need that is not being met."

The shortage of facilities in the Western Cape is compounded by many clients
attending from all over South Africa, Africa and the rest of the world
because SA centres are seen as affordable and offering a quality service.

Recently the Noupoort Christian Care rehab centre was ordered to phase out
operations by early next year for alleged rights violations.
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