Hazelden is opening the first outpatient treatment clinic under the Betty Ford banner — one of several changes underway since the Center City, Minn.-based addiction treatment provider merged with California-based Betty Ford Center last year.
The new clinic is scheduled to open in early February in affluent West Los Angeles, after a ribbon-cutting event next week that features Academy Award-winning actor Louis Gossett Jr.
Celebrity patients will be in the mix for the new clinic, but they aren't expected to be the primary audience, said Mark Mishek, Hazelden chief executive.
Many who have traveled to Betty Ford's inpatient center near Palm Springs live in the West Los Angeles area, Mishek said, so the new clinic will be convenient for those patients as they seek follow-up care. That also goes for patients who visit the cluster of residential treatment centers that has sprouted in recent years in nearby Malibu.
"We are going to open four centers relatively quickly," Mishek said in an interview. "Outpatient is where the world is moving."
The February 2014 merger created a new Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, which is based in Minnesota.
Providing outpatient care far from the main residential treatment facility in Center City has long been part of the operating model at Hazelden, which currently offers such services in Florida, Illinois, New York and Oregon.
Betty Ford Center currently has outpatient services only at its hospital in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
The federal Affordable Care Act provides better coverage from commercial health insurers for some addiction treatment services, and much of that care is provided in outpatient settings.
Long known as a place for celebrities to rehabilitate, Betty Ford Center historically has only taken patients who pay their own way, rather than rely on insurance coverage. But since 2012, the number of patients at Betty Ford Center has been on a steady downward trend, according to a financial statement.
After the merger, Hazelden assembled a group to begin negotiating with health insurance companies so those patients could get care from Betty Ford and help grow revenue at the center.
"We've gotten great receptivity from the California health plans to add Betty Ford into the networks," Mishek said.
In December, Hazelden completed an $11 million project to demolish two residential treatment buildings and construct a replacement facility for men undergoing treatment in Center City. Work on a $25 million project to expand an outpatient facility in St. Paul is scheduled for completion by April 2016.
In January, Hazelden reached a final agreement with Kansas City-based Cerner to install a new electronic health record system that will span both Hazelden and Betty Ford facilities. Scheduled to be operational by the end of 2016, the health record system will cost about $33 million to implement, Hazelden officials said.
During the nine-month period that ended in September, Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation had net income from operations of $919,000 on about $135.5 million in revenue. The operating margin was down from the same period in 2013, due in part to one-time costs with the merger, Mishek said.
In September, Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation had the equivalent of 1,249 full-time employees.