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Foundations brings nature, art and music into Memphis treatment center

June 12, 2015
by Julia Brown
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The Oaks at La Paloma -- Memphis
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At the top of an expansive, circular driveway in downtown Memphis sits The Oaks at La Paloma treatment center (formerly La Paloma), part of the Foundations Recovery Network (FRN). The main building is historic with a Southern feel, including towering white columns and flowing museum banners at its façade. A wrap-around fence provides its patients and staff seclusion from the surrounding urban neighborhood that seems a stone’s throw away.

While locally inspired themes are incorporated throughout the facility and its property, visitors are transported somewhere far more tranquil than urban Memphis. The campus is 12 acres in size and consists of a main building and a residential building, each comprising 60,624 square feet.

The center’s recent renovation project and rebranding started with a walk in the woods on the property. In fact, century-old oak trees inspired the new name and all renovations were intended to bring a deeper integration of art, music and nature into treatment practices.  

Five undeveloped acres were turned into a nature trail that allows patients to focus on mindfulness. Bat boxes and bird houses are scattered along the tree-lined path, which also features five stopping points or “moments” that incorporate icons within the recovery field, such as Betty Ford.

At The Oaks, colorful, unique stones painted by patients in the facility’s art room can be found just about everywhere: grouped on a table in the main lobby, scattered along the nature trail, circling trees and stacked around a water fountain feature. Other unique qualities of the property include a selection of historic animal statues on the lawn between the main building and residential building from when the building was a children’s hospital in the 1900s.

The yard space is anchored by a 30 foot mural designed by local artist Eli Van Buran depicting a woman who figure is partially transformed into a guitar. A similar, smaller mural graces the wall of the center’s music therapy room.

Major outdoor projects were completed in April. These included a new half-sand-half-turf sports court, low ropes course, fire pit and water fountain. The Oaks’ yard space also boasts disc golf, shuffle board and corn hole to cater to its primarily young adult demographic. Officials say one long-term goal is to eventually put in a swimming pool.

Indoor renovations
The Oaks also remodeled and expanded its gym and wellness center. The space now has Astroturf and walls adorned with motivational quotes that were stenciled by patients to give the space a welcoming feel. Yoga and dance lessons are offered as well.

As opposed to utilizing architects and interior designers, the entire renovation project was driven from start to finish by The Oaks management team and staff along with the Foundations Recovery Network marketing team. In order to tap into the creative energy in Memphis, local contractors were brought on to handle the bigger projects.

Constructing a recording studio as part of the center’s music therapy space was one of those projects. Named for its color, “Blue Door Studio” was designed to have no right angles—even the glass is angled to reduce sound reflection. In addition to a full-time music therapist, The Oaks plans to bring in a Drummers for Recovery group and host open-mic nights in the new space.

While the facility has always been healthcare-oriented in function, The Oaks makes an effort to employ local community members. Future plans include an amphitheater on the front lawn for hosting neighborhood events.

Officials say the updated facility will open new possibilities for the clinical team and the patients because renovations are about capitalizing creative ideas as much as they are about allocating capital dollars.

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