Beauterre Recovery Institute

The historic former Gainey Conference Center is one year into its new life as Beauterre Recovery Institute, a 61-bed residential addiction treatment center. (William Morris/People’s Press)

OWATONNA — Meridian Behavioral Health, which runs a variety of treatment facilities around Minnesota, felt there was a hole in the market — an unmet need for care that combines chemical addiction care with treatment for secondary mental health needs.

Turns out, they were correct.

“What I see as the biggest validation is the number of people who were looking for treatment here,” Beauterre Recovery Institute Director of Marketing and Business Development Stephen Cantwell said. “That right there is validation for the need that we saw, especially in the state of Minnesota.

Beauterre, which opened in Owatonna on Jan. 28, 2015, has seen demand far beyond what the 61-bed treatment facility can meet. In one year, the facility received 684 referrals or requests for treatment. 272 patients were accepted, for stays averaging about a month, with an 82 percent graduation rate.

“It’s been great, it’s been really a whirlwind of a year,” Beauterre Director of Programs and Operations Fred Bettner said. “We’ve been able to accomplish a lot.”

Beauterre employs about 50 workers and sits on the south edge of town on Highway 14 and boasts a spacious 182 acres. It was formerly home to the Gainey Conference Center. Now it offers patients a variety of indoor and outdoor therapeutic options.

“Because we have the space here and we have some of the very nice wellness recreation spots — tennis, volleyball, golf range, walking trails, the Straight River cuts through our site so they can go down there to go fishing — in terms of finding a treatment setting, I’m not sure we could have found a better one,” Bettner said.

Beauterre stands out from other addiction treatment centers through its focus on holistic treatment and overall mental health.

“We really pride ourselves on having the support and services for integrated mental health on site as well,” Cantwell said. “We would pride ourselves on taking the more medically acute or with a co-occuring disorder.”

Another unique feature at Beauterre is its professionals track, designed to help individuals in licensed professions such as doctors or pilots with addiction needs to meet the requirements of their licensing organizations.

“A big piece of that is offering the correct reporting, making sure they can come, get help, but whatever reporting is needed for their governing body, it’s done correctly so they can return to their job,” Cantwell said.

The first year has seen numerous successes — including the number of requests for care as well as earning certification from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities — but there’s still more to be done.

“I think one of the biggest hurdles has been building a brand from scratch. We didn’t have any brand equity, brand awareness,” Cantwell said. “Getting in network, we’ve achieved three network statuses and we’re credentialed by two others. That’s been a lot of work. We’re working on that, because we want to maintain and be accessible to all folks in the addicted population.”

That work has been made easier by the eager acceptance of the community.

“Another surprise for us that was kind of a surprise was how good Owatonna was to us,” Bettner said. “Sometimes a facility opens up and the community struggles with having a facility in their backyard, but Owatonna has been really good.”

And so one year in, Beauterre looks forward to expanding and improving its offerings for people struggling with chemical dependency.

“We want to continue to make this an incredible, safe, beautiful haven for people to come to find piece and begin the road to recover to drug and alcohol addiction,” Cantwell said.

William Morris is a reporter for the Owatonna People's Press. He can be reached at 444-2372; follow him on Twitter @OPPWilliam

City government and public safety reporter for the Owatonna People's Press

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