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A history of growth at Caron Treatment Centers

May 1, 2007
by DOUG TIEMAN
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During the past 50 years, Caron Treatment Centers has expanded to accommodate service demands

Since Caron Treatment Centers was founded 50 years ago, we have cultivated a rich tradition of pioneering treatment and enhancing our facilities to reach a wide range of people suffering from addiction. As we celebrate our golden anniversary, we reflect on our past and look forward to the continued expansion of our services that will enable us to offer the best available treatment for patients and their families.

To better understand how we're advancing our services at Caron, it's important to first take a quick look back at Caron's inception. When Pennsylvania industrialist Richard J. Caron first started what was known as “Chit Chat Farm,” Caron was a place predominantly for male alcoholics to come for treatment. During its first year of operation, Chit Chat Farm served 192 patients, 13 of them women, making the facility one of the first alcoholism treatment centers in the country to admit women. By 1962, almost a quarter of its patients were women. In 1969, Chit Chat expanded its focus to include drug addiction.

Today, on Caron's 125-acre Pennsylvania campus, our programs have evolved to be gender separate and gender specific. Nearly 70% of patients at Caron have co-occurring disorders. We treat everyone from teens to grandparents. In fact, our patient population is the most diverse it has ever been. Caron has already spent $20 million over the past five years to meet the specialized needs of our diverse population by enhancing existing buildings and constructing new facilities.

To facilitate future growth, Caron is in the process of completing some major expansion and renovation projects at our Wernersville, Pennsylvania, campus and Boca Raton, Florida, properties. All of the work reflects our desire to create the best possible environment for facilitating recovery. We believe that modern facilities, up-to-date technology, and pleasing aesthetics, among other details, contribute to patients' and families' feelings of well-being, which are critical for people to move past the shame and guilt of addiction to begin a new life.

We financed these projects with both cash generated through operations and extensive fund-raising. Additionally, we have borrowed money to cover the difference between the philanthropic pledges and their collection. Overall, we will spend about $21 million over three years to make these improvements happen. In fact, we recently launched a $50 million capital campaign, which will include these expansion projects and also create extensive endowments.

One of these projects is a multimillion dollar renovation of the Renaissance Institute, a Caron Treatment Center based in South Florida. We expect a new $9 million clinical facility to be completed by September. Renaissance's capacity will double from 60 to 120 patients, who will all receive treatment at the 22,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art center. The patients will live at nearby apartments in Delray Beach that have a new 30-year lease and more than $2 million in renovations.

Many more changes also have taken place and continue to develop at Caron's 260-bed campus in Wernersville. This past fall Caron added a new Young Adult Male Program. Experts at Caron observed a growing challenge in treating young adult alcoholics and drug addicts due to more young adults embracing an extended adolescence and putting off the traditional markers of adulthood, such as marriage and careers. We decided to create the Young Adult Male Program for 20- to 25-year-old men to tackle these challenges by separating the young male patients from Caron's adult men unit. Their families also are required to be an integral part of treatment and continuing care.

The creation of this program required that Caron add a building on a previously unoccupied portion of its campus. The 21-bed, 13,000-square-foot facility sits behind the executive offices and near the men's extended care area (figure 1). A new 16,000-square-foot dining hall for adolescents and young men also is planned and will be completed by the end of the year for approximately $3 million.

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