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Hazelden's New CEO Hits Deal Ground Running
February 2009

Hazelden’s New CEO Hits Deal Ground RunningTaking over the CEO slot following the controversial departure of Ellen Breyer last spring, Hazelden's new top executive appears to have hit the ground running. Within a matter of weeks, after the board placed the reins in his hands last November, Mark Mishek had already flown twice to Florida in order to oversee - jump-start?- Hazelden's incredibly long-running effort to open a center in the key regional private addictions market. Mishek told Treatment Magazine this month that, as a result of various discussions and negotiations, of which Mishek has quickly taken charge, that he expects to announce details of the Florida center later this year. Hazelden was awarded millions upon the rancorous breakup of Palm Beachbased Hanley/Hazelden over five years ago, monies that must be spent in Florida.

Mishek agrees that an important way he needs to make his mark at the venerable nonprofit is to broaden the center's payor mix, improving Hazelden's penetration into the critical private pay market. Other top tier, old line nonprofits deal almost exclusively in private pay, but Hazelden seemed less able to bring that business in the door, relying heavily on a big, and very attractively priced, managed care deal with Blue Cross. "We will be in Florida," Mishek told Treatment Magazine with determination, but refusing to provide
further details of what that Florida presence would be like. But perhaps Hazelden could use its Midwest addictions marketing muscle to attract a private pay clientele looking for a Florida "destination" addiction treatment experience. Many had speculated that the board would bring a Hazelden insider - industry observervers like Naatp's Ron Hunsicker, for example - after a series of CEO picks that looked outside the hugely wealthy institution, and, in Ellen Breyer's case, even outside the addictions industry.

Hazelden’s New CEO Hits Deal Ground RunningBut the board once again looked elsewhere, and this time chose Mark Mishek, who has deep experience in the medical services industry. Mishek's last job was as EVP of a multi-billion dollar upper Midwest health system, Allina, reaching that post after moving up the ranks for almost 30 years. And while Mishek may not be a Hazelden insider in the sense that he worked there as an executive, he is very much a Hazelden insider in the sense that he and his family, going all the way back to Mishek's dad in 1971, battled their addictions at the storied center, including recently Mishek's son. The Mishek story at Hazelden is in fact an epic tale of a Minnesota family's struggle to stay in recovery, a multigenerational saga that has been played out so many times at Hazelden over the decades. The choice of Mishek, then, appears to be brilliant for the board, which was criticised for picking Breyer, who was not in recovery and, thus perhaps unfairly suspected of being insufficiantly mission motivated because of that. Tacitly recognizing that Breyer may have alienated contituencies both inside and outside of Hazelden, Mishek says his initial job will be to "repair" frayed relations. And back on the deal side, Mishek says he has yet to look into why two New York deals fell down - one with Veritas Villa and the other with Seafield Center - that have left some wondering about the future of a new Northeast adolescent center that is a lynchpin, supposedly, of growth plans. TJ

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