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Retiring Gateway Chicago CEO Among Great Contemporary Institution Builders  E-mail
Addiction Treatment Industry Newswire

08/06/2014 -ATIN - As Gateway Chicago's board works closely with its Raymond James advisors in determining its strategic path forward, the board is no doubt relying closely on the advice and guidance of its long time CEO Michael Darcy. But part of that plan, one of the few parts that has already been decided, is that Mr. Darcy is set to retire very shortly leaving a legacy of addiction treatment building that very, very few can match in the contemporary history of the nation's addiction treatment system. In the state of Illinois there are certainly other high quality centers - Rosecrance in the northwestern part of the state, Chestnut Health Systems and the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery are some of them - but Gateway, run out of its lean functional headquarters in Downtown Chicago, is by far the largest provider of addiction care in Illinois and one of the few centers nationwide that has locations and service ability almost throughout an entire state. In its latest fiscal 2013 year, Gateway Foundation served almost 1,500 youths and more than 12,000 adult clients and opened brand new outpatient clinics on Chicago's Near North side and as well as toward the central part of the state in Pekin, IL.

Pantheon of Institution Builders

Having spent almost his entire 45+ year career at Gateway Chicago - he was asked to join Gateway in 1969 the year after Gateway was founded while doing outreach work in New York's Greenwich Village - Michael Darcy definitely belongs in the pantheon of great contemporary addiction treatment institution builders like Mitch Rosenthal of Phoenix House and the other Gateway, based in Pittsburgh, where another institution builder Ken Ramsey retired about a year ago. The comparison to the above two leaders is especially apt because all three treatment institutions, but especially Gateway Chicago, have undergone sweeping institutional change in recent years, driven mostly by severe deterioration in the finances of state governments.

Eye-on-the-Ball

Gateway was in fact, largely because Darcy and his board had their eye-on-the-ball, among the very first of the "public" funded centers to make a move toward acquiring more funding from private insurance sources when previously virtually all of Gateway's funding came from public sources with corresponding strong access to treatment by lower income demographics in Illinois. It says it all that Darcy has largely fulfilled his commercial payor mandate - the board essentially told Darcy it wanted at least 1/3 of revenues from commercial insurers lickety-split - when in its latest annual report Gateway can say that it now accepts most insurance policies in its "coverage area." And while for players like Gateway Pittsburgh and Phoenix House - where the legendary founding executives have retired after nationwide searches - there has been fiscal improvement in state budgets that have helped; in Illinois, the state, and now the city government of Chicago, is still beset by severe and seemingly intractable financial issues that make Gateway Chicago's movement toward private treatment markets all the more important for its future as well as perhaps more permanent.

Devotion to Mission

The debate at the Gateway board level about whether or not to transform Gateway's Lake Villa property - a gorgeous lakeside facility in a resort area not far from Chicago - into a super luxurious high-end private pay center encapsulates the Gateway board and Darcy's sense of mission. So far it's been decided that Lake Villa shall remain like all other Gateway residential facilities, which means open to all at the same price and access level as any other of the center's residential facilities. But Darcy told Treatment Magazine recently that the Raymond James strategic review would be very wide ranging with no option left off the table for discussion which, Darcy said, might include setting up a for-profit unit of Gateway Chicago.

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Ted Jackson

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