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The Greenhouse

October 12, 2012
by Gary Enos, Editor
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Operators of The Greenhouse (Grand Prairie, TX) have taken actions to indicate that while they consider a strong clinical team to be the greatest asset of an addiction treatment center, they also believe that having attractive surroundings places not far behind.

Rather than move away from the Dallas-area setting’s origins as a luxury spa dating to the 1960s, founder Michael Cartwright and his staff have embraced the site’s history. Cartwright says he hired back many employees of the spa that had been established by the founder of Neiman Marcus and that had been vacant for a couple of years before Cartwright purchased the property in September 2011.

“Eighty-five percent of our operating staff has been on the property for 17 years,” says Cartwright.

“Our chef is in recovery, and when I contacted him to tell him about what we were doing with the property, he almost cried. He said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me—that’s great.’”

These individuals who once catered to celebrities now make up part of the staff for American Addiction Centers’ luxury option in addiction treatment (American Addiction Centers recently was established out of a merger of organizations involving Cartwright’s former Forterus Health). Cartwright says the site also features some weight-loss program services, as he originally envisioned the property as part of the FitRx business operation that he established after leaving his longtime position at the helm of Foundations Recovery Network.

Extensive renovations to the southern-style mansion began last fall, and the 56,000-square-foot facility on 5.66 acres opened in April. The 37-room center includes amenities such as a fitness center, swimming pools designed specifically for both aquatic exercise and relaxation, tennis courts, and walking trails. The approach with clients is that “you’ve got to move your body every day,” Cartwright says, and clients start immediately on a program that might incorporate yoga, working with weights, running, and other pursuits.

Yet Cartwright emphasizes, “The clinical care is the most important thing we do; the physical plant helps the process.” The site renovations emphasized having proper flow for the medical team working with patients, with ample space for psychiatric, nursing and nutritional assessments. The Greenhouse’s medical director is John M. Talmadge, MD, an addiction specialist and clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

In addition, the site renovations emphasized creating high-quality group space offering the proper acoustics and a high degree of privacy, says Cartwright.

Along with the emphasis on fitness, The Greenhouse pays a great deal of attention to clients’ diets. It is mindful of the risk of weight gain in early recovery when sugar tends to substitute for the substances that are no longer being used. Organic produce and a low-carbohydrate menu are among the areas of emphasis here, says Cartwright.

The mainly self-pay facility operated at 85% of capacity within the first three months, according to Cartwright, and the average length of stay has been around 40 days. He plans to open a similar luxury facility in Las Vegas in December, maintaining the approach of sound clinical care first but striking accommodations not far behind.

“When you walk into this property, it’s breathtaking,” Cartwright says of The Greenhouse site. “Then when you meet the clinical staff, you feel like you’re getting a value proposition.” He adds, “We want to be in addiction what the Ritz-Carlton is in hospitality.”

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