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UPDATE: Betty Ford Center dismisses director of spiritual care

October 23, 2013
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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The spiritual care director at the Betty Ford Center will not have an opportunity to look for synergies with Hazelden’s programming when the two large treatment organizations complete their merger plans in the coming weeks. John P. McAndrew, MA, MDiv, confirmed to Addiction Professional this week that he was dismissed from his position at Betty Ford as of Oct. 1.

McAndrew, who had served in that role at the Betty Ford Center for more than two years, adds that two counselors who specialized in spiritual care at the facility also were let go at the beginning of this month. He says he was told that the moves were part of an organizational restructuring.

“I honestly can say that none of it makes sense to me,” says McAndrew, who last month delivered a breakout session talk on spiritual care principles for the 21st century at the National Conference on Addiction Disorders (NCAD) in Anaheim, Calif. “But I’m not a corporate guy.” He adds that he believes a defined spiritual care component at Betty Ford “is what set us apart from any other treatment center.”

Betty Ford Center spokesman Russ Patrick confirms the three dismissals, adding that the two counselors who were let go were not full-time staff members and had been paid on a per diem basis. Patrick says no other layoffs have occurred in the organization in recent weeks.

Patrick describes the personnel moves as reflecting a decision by the organization’s transition team that spiritual care “needed to be more deeply integrated into the treatment process overall at the Betty Ford Center, in all of our programs,” rather than being situated as a stand-alone function.

Patrick adds, “This had absolutely nothing to do with the impending merger of the Betty Ford Center and Hazelden. We at the Betty Ford Center are very much the masters of our own fate and the captain of the ship at this stage.”

When the final details of the merger with Hazelden become official, Hazelden president and CEO Mark Mishek will become the chief administrator of the merged entity. Each facility will retain its brand identity as the deal officially takes effect.

McAndrew says he was looking forward to the chance to explore what the two organizations’ spiritual care leaders could learn from each other as the facilities joined together. He believes that the Betty Ford Center’s programming has done a particularly noteworthy job, vis-à-vis other treatment centers, of working with patients to develop their conception of the Higher Power in their life.

While McAndrew does not doubt that Betty Ford’s services will retain a spiritual focus, he adds that the personnel moves to him at least suggest “a certain lack of focus.” He adds, “If this is something that the patients point to as making a difference, it’s really too bad that that’s being undone.”

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