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Economy, travel concerns lead to closure of Belize treatment program

November 12, 2009
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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New River Cove ceases operations after six years

During the period of late-summer tropical heat in Central America, an addiction treatment center that had managed to offer an attractive recovery environment at below-average cost was forced to cease operations. The former CEO of New River Cove says a combination of a weak economy and intensified concerns about overseas travel convinced the center’s Louisiana-based owners to close the facility after six years in business.

“We had an amazing staff and an evidence-based program rooted in the 12 Steps that I was really excited about,” says New River Cove’s former CEO, Todd Whitmer. But since this past spring, the inland facility located on a working ranch had struggled to maintain a capacity close to its maximum of 18, even though its program cost of $26,000 for 90 days was substantially lower than that of other private long-term residential treatment facilities.

Whitmer points out that the closure of his program shouldn’t send a message that programs located overseas cannot attract a patient base from the U.S. Some other current factors do make this a challenge, including travel concerns that Whitmer says grew stronger after the swine flu hit Mexico. “There is concern about traveling out of the country in general,” he says.

A former staff member at Father Martin’s Ashley and Caron Treatment Centers, Whitmer is presently involved in some fundraising work for Caron. He says he enjoyed his time in Belize and intends to visit the popular vacation spot when he can. Clients at New River Cove lived in thatched-roof dwellings and participated in a holistically oriented program that included horseback riding and visits to sites where ancient Mayan ruins have been unearthed.

Whitmer says the New River Cove owner, which operates other human service facilities but not in primary addiction treatment, is exploring various options for use of the 27-acre site that housed the treatment center. More information is available via the e-mail address kadam@newrivercove.com.

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