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Northeast treatment chain builds community relationships; expects openings this year

January 21, 2015
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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As Recovery Centers of America's (RCA's) concept of neighborhood-based addiction treatment and recovery support continues to take shape, the architects of what is designed to become a major Northeast treatment chain also are running up against some traditional community unrest about their plans.

Chief clinical officer Deni Carise, PhD, tells Addiction Professional that RCA is engaging in numerous community meetings and outreach efforts in the dozen communities from Boston to Washington, D.C. where it has secured building sites for new facilities. She sees no obstacles to the startup of DCA's first programs in 2015, although no announcements are imminent.

“We'll be opening up programs this year,” says Carise, a nationally prominent clinical care leader who joined RCA last fall as the company's first executive-level official.

Carise understands the concerns of community residents in locations where buildings that in many cases have stood dormant for some time will soon be converted to treatment facilities of 50 to 150 beds. She says RCA's message to communities in recent meetings has focused on its efforts to help solve a prominent community problem.

“At the last zoning meeting I attended, we explained that if you don't think the [addiction] issue exists here, within a 15-mile radius of this location there are 562 AA meetings every week,” Carise says.

Multiple levels of service

Prominent Philadelphia-area real estate developer J. Brian O'Neill spearheaded the initial $200 million investment that in 2014 created RCA, seeking to realize his vision of creating addiction treatment sites that rival the quality and hospitality of facilities that treat other illnesses such as cancer. As someone who has specialized in converting brownfields into attractive commercial and residential communities, O'Neill is hardly deterred by the “Not in My Back Yard” sentiment that can be pervasive in communities that are eyed for addiction treatment enterprises, says Carise.

Carise says she is excited about the prospect for developing neighborhood facilities where 12-Step meetings and family support services can be delivered alongside primary treatment. Planners in the for-profit organization are looking into establishing a “coffee house” concept at the sites, where members of the recovering community could congregate and where patients may be able to earn credits by completing work hours.

She says that members of the communities where RCA plans to locate facilities have been very inquisitive, wanting to know details such as what patients will be doing during day hours and whether any will be excluded from admission based on a criminal background (that can't be done in a blanket fashion, she replies, but there will be some exclusions).

Carise adds that in some cases, RCA has donated some land back to the communities where treatment sites are in the works.

She says most people even within the treatment field do not fully grasp the many details involved in bringing new facilities to fruition. Another relatively new component of this has been the presence of market analysts in the development of RCA's plans. "We didn't even have these people in our industry a decade ago," says Carise.    

Amassing talent

RCA's executive team has begun to take shape in recent months; here are some of the key officials now on board in the organization:

  • Chief operating officer J.P. Christen is a veteran financial officer and administrator with a vast background in acute-care hospital settings, having served most recently as vice president of acute care for Universal Health Services (UHS) and its 24-hospital portfolio.

  • Chief financial officer Kevin McClure is the former CFO at human-services provider giant Northwest Human Services (NHS), which has 700 locations in seven states.

  • New England region executive director Brad Greenstein formerly served as senior vice president of business development at prominent New England behavioral health system Spectrum Health Systems, Inc., and also is a former CEO of the Las Vegas Recovery Center.

  • Director of training Ashley Alberta comes to RCA after having worked with Carise at both CRC Health Group and Phoenix House. Alberta will be developing RCA's evidence-based practice curriculum as well as the training institute that will seek to ensure clinical professionals' fidelity to the organization's treatment protocols.

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