It’s May 5th, 2015, and this date always gives me pause for reflection over the ground we’ve traveled and where we’re headed in the future. On this day in 2008, we admitted the first of nearly 700 patients we’ve walked the journey of recovery with for the last seven years. In the rear view mirror, we see some tremendous accomplishments by our leadership and support staff. We’ve grown from our original eight beds to 16, moved to an expanded location, added our three-phase chronic disease model, implemented specialized executive function assessment and programming, obtained Joint Commission certification and continued to add gifted staff to our core of dedicated professionals.At Ascend, we hold ourselves in a contradiction – a tension between two ideals that fuels good care for our patients. This contradiction lies in a commitment to innovation despite a reverence for our tradition as a treatment program. This contradiction can be seen in the statement I make to the staff every year when we contemplate our planning for the upcoming year. I ask them, “How can we change Ascend this year without changing anything?” I want to take this opportunity to share some of our latest thrilling innovations with you.
The first big change is the addition of our Ascend Discover program, which will focus on mental health. We’ve seen the profiles of our patients become more clinically complex over the last seven years. I think this has happened as a function of our expertise in working with the more clinically complex dual-diagnosis substance abuser as well as an increase in the acuity level of all patients presenting for treatment nationwide.As we’ve seen this change, we’ve seen the need for additional programming for the patient that has a very high acuity of mental health disorders as well as one that can address substance-abusing patients that are on the more severe end of the mental health spectrum. The above patient profile is whom Ascend Discover was built for. Ascend Discover is a stand-alone program. It has its own building and its own staff. Johanna and myself, in addition to Laura McBride, who we feel proud and honored to add as a founding member of Ascend Discover, have together created this innovative and necessary program.
Laura will maintain her position as Director of Admissions and Marketing for Ascend Recovery and Ascend Discover. Guy Hardcastle will continue to assist her in our marketing and admissions department for both Ascend Recovery and Ascend Discover. Rod Andrus will serve as the Executive and Clinical Director of Ascend Discover. The program is founded on the treatment model at Ascend and as such will offer some of the same strong clinical foundation in addition to treatments and modalities specific to this new population.The program will offer a phase of the program we have called “Reintegrative Living” which would be similar to what in substance abuse is called “Sober Living.” We believe in the value of organic growth. The program has started small and we currently have capacity for 6 beds but have plans to grow it over the next 18 months to 18 beds. We are confident with our model we can deliver a valuable service to a currently under-served population.
My hope is that as (clients) obtain treatment at the Ascend programs, they don’t become who they were before. I want them to be better than they were before. I hope they themselves use treatment to innovate themselves and their lives.
We have implemented innovations at Ascend Recovery as well. We are currently about a third of the way through a renovation of our facility that will add more office space, a specialized yoga studio and gym, a garden area, an additional group room and more. We’re also giving our facility a fresh look with new paint and some repairs. We will not be adding to our bed capacity, as this smaller individualized model is one of the traditions that we remain most committed to. On the programmatic side we have just passed our 3-year review for accreditation with the Joint Commission and are implementing some of their suggestions to ensure that as an operation we are always working from the standpoint of best practices.Clinically, we had Karin Hunt, LCSW return after her brief leave due to illness. We are excited she is again functioning as Ascend Recovery’s Clinical Director. As for me, I will handle both clinical and program supervision at both Ascend Recovery and Ascend Discover, although about 2/3 of my time will be spent at Ascend Recovery.
Additionally, with clinical innovations all Ascend therapists at both the Recovery and Discover program have become certified trauma therapists and now receive the designation next to their state licensure as CTT-2 (Certified Trauma Therapist Level 2). Judy Crane, former owner of the Refuge, has trained us in trauma-specific therapy. Ms. Crane has an amazing and impactful training course for therapists looking to become trauma certified through her Spirit-to-Spirit training organizations. In order to best utilize this training we are offering more gender specific and smaller process and experiential groups associated with treating trauma. When asked why I named our program Ascend, I say it’s because I was perplexed when patients would come to me as they were checking in and say that they wanted to recover and be who they were before addiction took hold of their lives. My hope is that as they obtain treatment at the Ascend programs they don’t become who they were before – I want them to be better than they were before. I hope they themselves use treatment to innovate themselves and their lives. As we have set out to help patients accomplish this goal, we have set this as a goal for our organization.
I am excited that we have been in the middle of this process since we started back on May 5, 2008. I am exhilarated by the changes and innovations we have employed this year and grateful for my opportunity to share this journey with all our patients and colleagues. Just keep looking out the windshield at the road ahead and every once in a while, check your rear view mirror.
Ryan Salter LCSW, CTT-2, CEO
Ascend Recovery and Ascend Discover