When Meridian Behavioral Health decided to open a new in-patient addiction-recovery center in Minnesota, they hired a commercial realtor to help them find a rural property that could house a large number of people for extended stays.
This didn’t seem like it would be an easy task, said John Seymour, Meridian Behavioral Health vice president. But then, a few weeks later, he got a call. It was the realtor.
“He was excited,” Seymour recalled. “He said, ‘This is the best property I’ve ever seen. You’ve got to get out here.’ Once we got out to Owatonna and saw the property, we thought, ‘This is the place where we could extend our model of care to serve the private segment.’ It is a beautiful building in a peaceful, rural setting, a perfect fit. We started moving ahead on an offer as soon as we could.”
The property that got Seymour and his colleagues so excited is the Gainey Center, a former country-estate-turned-conference-center that for the past 32 years has been operated by the University of St. Thomas. Citing financial concerns, the university put the property up for sale in February 2014.
“It boiled down to a combination of money and mission fit,” said Doug Hennes, St. Thomas’ vice president for university and government relations. “Over the years, we’ve found less and less demand and interest for what the Gainey Center could offer as a conference center. We were happy to find a buyer so quickly, because the red ink was getting deeper every year.”
Meridian Behavioral Health executives see no red ink in sight for their latest venture, an addiction recovery center scheduled to open in the former Gainey Center the week of Jan. 26. The full-service program, which they’ve rechristened Beauterre Recovery Institute, will offer rehab services to a wide variety of private-pay clients struggling with addiction.
Even though the local market is already home to many nationally respected in-patient addiction treatment centers, Meridian felt that Minnesota still has plenty of room for another recovery program.
“Roughly one in three families are impacted by addiction,” Seymour said, “yet 90 percent of folks who have an addiction don’t get treatment. That means that right now, roughly only 10 percent of the market is served. When we saw the Gainey Center, we felt that this was an opportunity to extend our unique model of care to a new segment of the market.”
Founded in 1988, Meridian is the largest for-profit behavioral health-care company in the state. The Meridian model, Seymour explained, is based on treatment programs tailored to the needs of individual clients. The company operates 20 treatment facilities in Minnesota.
“Our model of care is built around integrative mental health,” Seymour said, “on providing chemical dependency and mental health services for our clients with individualized treatment plans pulling from different therapeutic approaches depending on client needs. We are not a one-size-fits-all program.”
The center’s name is designed to establish the program in its new home, a pastoral setting one hour south of the Twin Cities in Owatonna. “We did a naming and established a separate brand, which means ‘beautiful earth,’” Seymour said. “We believe the name captures the essence of the environment. We see this model as having legs to go beyond Owatonna, but we need to nail it in Owatonna first.”
Focus on licensed professionals
Matt Malloy, director of business development for Beauterre Recovery Institute, explained that while the center will be open to all seeking addiction treatment, the program will include special treatment options for licensed professionals, including health-care workers like nurses, physicians and pharmacists.
“On the nursing side of things, we’ve lately seen a tremendous need for these kinds of services,” Malloy said. “There’s been a lot reported in the media around nursing and the illegal use of opioid-based drugs intended for patents. Up until now, residential care has been out of reach for nurses for two reasons: the cost, and the length of stay required. We see this as a great opportunity to provide our new model of care for nurses and to build programs designed to meet their specific needs.”
Malloy said that health-care professionals are especially susceptible to addiction because of their access to highly addictive drugs, including opioid-based pain relievers.
“These are folks who got into their chosen career because they wanted to help people,” Malloy said. “Then they got sidetracked and became their own worst patients. We’re lucky in Minnesota: We have a well developed diversion board programs that provide opportunities for health professionals to come forward and address their addiction issues in a safe manner.”
Program directors at Beauterre, Malloy said, will work closely with diversion boards to help patients re-enter the professional community after treatment: “The whole goal of diversion boards is to be able to help practitioners seek help and maintain their license to serve in the community.”
How much will it cost to undergo treatment at Beauterre?
“We’re working on the rates right now,” Malloy said. “Our rate for in-patient treatment will be roughly $975 per day.” The program, which typically includes a 30-day stay, depending on individual needs, is currently an out-of-network provider.
“We are also looking to accept insurance,” Malloy said. Meridian is in discussion with several insurance providers.
“Our goal is to keep it affordable,” Seymour said, though he admits that, “Residential treatment is not cheap. Our goal is to come in at a price point comparable if not below a Hazelden.”
The 60-bed facility will be open to both men and women.
“We haven’t set a limit on number of beds that will be available for males or females,” Malloy said. “We will adjust the percentage depending on the need.”
While Meridian executives say they did not design Beauterre to directly challenge Hazelden’s in-patient treatment programs in Center City, they do make a point of explaining how their programs will be different from programs offered at other local treatment centers.
“We take a collaborative approach with the other treatment options that are out there,” said Malloy, a former Hazelden employee. “When it comes to addiction recovery, you are going to find the place that’s the right fit for you. What we hear from patients and referrals is how they don’t want to be squeezed into a system that already exists. The typical patient at Beauterre is going to be someone who is serious about treatment, someone who’s looking for a very personalized experience in an intimate setting.”
“Our intent was never to go head to head with Hazelden,” Seymour added. “Our intent was to meet an unmet need around individualized care.”