Betty Ford Clinic Merges with Hazelden

Two of America’s biggest rehab clinics – the Betty Ford Clinic and Hazelden – recently announced plans for a merger, creating the world’s biggest addiction treatment organisation.

According to a press release issued by the new organisation, this merger will “position us well to respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by health care reform and the rapidly changing marketplace.”

“Both organizations are iconic leaders and have remarkable strengths,” said Mark Mishek, who will be the CEO once the merger is approved by federal regulators.  “The new organization will offer residential and outpatient services based on its 12 Step, abstinence-based treatment model for individuals suffering from addiction, their families and other loved ones at 14 sites across the U.S.  The new Foundation will also have a fully-accredited graduate school of addiction studies, an addiction research center, a prevention training program, along with Betty Ford Center’s education arm for medical professionals and its unique Children’s Program.

This is welcome news in the UK where the lack of government support for residential addiction treatment has resulted in the closure of scores of inpatient rehab clinics.

Putting the merger into perspective, Peter McCann, the Chairman of Castle Craig Hospital, said “Hazelden was founded in 1949 and is one of the oldest addiction treatment centres in the USA. It has a large and important research and publishing division.

“On the other hand” continued McCann, “Betty Ford was an American First lady who went through the 12 step  recovery programme. By setting up a rehab clinic in her name she has brought a measure of celebrity and fame to the recovery movement. The Betty Ford Clinic is now a household name. Together, they will be a extremely powerful exponent of treatment.”

The new organisation will start with an annual operating budget of $180 million and their immediate plans are to offer more outpatient services around the USA. An estimated 23 million Americans are addicted to drugs and alcohol but less than 10% of these seek treatment.

The merger of Betty Ford and Hazelden was announced just a week before enrollment starts for the new federal Affordable Care Act, which ensures new benefits for mental health and substance use disorder services. Enrollment for these new benefits was supposed to start next week but this will be postponed due to the Government shutdown that is currently taking place in the USA due to Republican opposition to the health reforms. The shutdown is also likely to delay the federal approval process for the merger, which was scheduled to take place by the end of the year.

“Suddenly, you are going to have many, many people who are going to be able to access services,” said Mark Mishek, Hazelden’s current President and CEO.

The new organisation will be called the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.