Scientology Clinic Bad Medicine: Ex-Worker

New York Post/August 4, 2005
By Stefan C. Friedman

A Scientology-run "detoxification" clinic in Manhattan is endangering patients because of its leaders' strict adherence to the church's teachings, a whistle-blowing former employee has told City Confidential.

The source, who until recently worked at the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification program on Fulton Street, said he witnessed "strange practices" at the tax-funded center, which was co-founded by Tom Cruise.

These include: treating ill World Trade Center rescue workers without doctors present, strictly following Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's medical techniques even when patients were in distress, and a reluctance to call 911 for help.

"Somebody's going to get hurt from this," the former employee said. "There was no responsibility on the medical side of the project."

The whistleblower's bombshell revelations come after The Post reported this week that Scientologists from around the country pumped nearly $115,000 into the Manhattan borough-president campaign of Councilwoman Margarita Lopez, who has steered more than $600,000 in public funds to the facility.

The former staffer was especially disturbed by the hours maintained by the two doctors at the center.

"They worked from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.," the source noted. "But the clinic is open for at least 12 hours a day, and patients were coming in at all times."

"[Sometimes,] the doctors would only be there on Tuesdays and Thursdays."

When the doctors weren't around, there was only one source to consult for treatment: Hubbard's book "Clear Mind, Clear Body," the text in which "detoxification" was created.

A disaster was narrowly averted last summer when a firefighter ran out of a 170-degree sauna — part of the detoxification method, along with exercise and large doses of niacin — because he was "having trouble breathing," according to one witness.

As the firefighter's hands were "turning blue," a call was made to clinic higher-ups for guidance.

"They said it was just a 'manifestation' and that we should go back to the book until it passed," one horrified witness recalled.

"We were told to take him to the hospital if absolutely necessary, but to drive him there, instead of calling 911."

The firefighter was given oxygen and his condition eventually stabilized.

A spokesman for the clinic defended the operation.

"The detoxification program is under the general medical supervision of a board-certified physician," said Keith Miller. He added that the clinic "has a clear policy to call 911 when needed."

Miller said 500 rescue workers and their families had benefited from the program so far. Many called The Post yesterday to express their support for the project.

While the techniques employed at the clinic were partly responsible for the staffer's decision to quit, the employee gave notice only after witnessing what the employee called "an extremely disturbing event" involving a co-worker.

"This girl who worked there had a boyfriend whose brother had left the Church of Scientology," the source said. "They told her that the only way she could keep working there [would be] if her boyfriend has no further contact with his brother."

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