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Nature is central component at Swift River Massachusetts

January 13, 2017
by Jill Sederstrom
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Nestled into the Berkshire mountains in Massachusetts, there stands a 600-acre property complete with natural wildlife, trails, cross country skiing routes and a campus with a dozen buildings. The site began as a dairy farm and has transformed over the years to be a high-end resort, ski lodge and boarding school.

Now, it serves as one of the newest Addiction Campuses’ facilities, Swift River Rehab.

 “There’s just so many amazing components to the property, obviously, there’s an abundance of natural wildlife that we can utilize as a resource to really help ground our clients, “ says Brent Clements, chief executive officer of Addiction Campuses.  “We are really trying to help get them grounded and get them in a frame of mind where they are willing to accept some of these treatment modalities that we position there.”

The 12 on-site buildings include a former classroom, now used for group and counseling sessions, gymnasium, art studio, library, music hall and conference hall. The main building, which can house up to 60 residents, was ideal for the facility’s detox and residential program patients, while two additional dorms, which can house anywhere from 20 to 30 residents each, had room for the center’s partial hospitalization program (PHP) and intensive outpatient program (IOP).

 “This location is really set up similar to a college campus where they are moving about, having to show up on time, and there’s some built-in accountability there that really helps us monitor these clients, “ Clements says.

The existing buildings were a fit for the addiction recovery center—which also offers adventure therapy—but after standing vacant for three years, the facility needed a facelift. In four months, the program was able to update the existing structures to meet the unique needs of the clinical model and the current building codes.

 “We had 30 to 40 contractors there on a daily basis for a solid 90 days just working multiple trades,” Clements says.

New blacktop was installed around the main building and additional lodges, sidewalks were rebuilt, building interiors were painted, new lighting was installed and all 12 buildings were made wheelchair accessible with ramps and renovated bathrooms.

A new kitchen in the main building, complete with up-to-date appliances was also added.

In terms of the buildings’ exterior, Clements say they’d opted to maintain the existing Cape-cod style design to remain consistent with the facility’s New England setting and replaced the siding and exterior doors on some of the buildings on campus.

 “It’s got a unique feel,” he says.

Interior spaces

On the interior, the walls received new coats of paint and all new furniture was added. The facility selected warm neutrals, such as khakis, taupes and greys, to give the interior space a warm and inviting feeling.

 “It’s not a traditional treatment center,” Clements says.  “It feels like home. It has huge wood beams throughout that just make the setting comfortable and relaxing, and what we’re seeing up there, is that our clients thrive in that environment.”

The campus also has several large rooms, which Clements calls Colorado ski-rooms, that have a cozy-mountain feel. One of the rooms has been converted into a library complete with an indoor/outdoor fireplace.

When patients aren’t in group sessions or one-on-one counseling sessions—which are often held in the renovated school building—they are able to take advantage of the on-site amenities at the campus gymnasium or go hiking or cross country skiing.

Nature is a central component of the property and a patient’s experience at Swift River. Addiction Campuses even partnered with the state of Massachusetts to preserve 500 acres on the property that has numerous trails running through the Berkshire mountains and down through to the Swift River.

Whether clients are using the yoga studio located in the gymnasium, attending group sessions in the converted school or spending time cross country-skiing, Clements says designers wanted to create a serene, relaxing environment where true healing could begin.

 “You want them to be comfortable where they will stay, stay engaged, communicate with staff, communicate with fellow patients and really leave there with a foundation to succeed, “ he says.

Jill Sederstrom is a freelance writer based in Kansas City

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