Elements’ Lucida: Treatment’s Multi-Cultural Future

Written by Ted Jackson 
April 2014

As the composition of the nation’s demographics shift big time, with the amazing swift rise especially of the Hispanic segment of the national population, but also Asians and many other ethnic groups, it poses an especially large challenge, and opportunity, for the addiction treatment industry. Of course, at the heart of the therapeutic process is the ability to communicate properly on a deeply in depth basis, which is hard enough to do period, but immeasurably more challenging when barriers of language and culture intercede.

Pioneering Program

So it was with these factors in mind, and also knowing the immense strong market positioning in the treatment business that comes with establishing leading edge program reputations – Caron/Hanley and older adult is a perfect example – that nimble, fast growing Elements Behavioral decided to make a move into delivering multi-cultural therapeutics in a serious way. And toward this end it was late last year that Elements opened Lucida, a Hispanic language and culturally oriented program located in the South Florida market, a demographically Latin American drenched locale if there ever was one and one that literally almost cries out for the establishment of Spanish language addiction treatment and has for some time now.

Growth = Specialty Care

For CEO David Sack and his team, guys like former Sierra Tucson CEO and now Elements Senior Vice President Keith Arnold, the move into delivering multi-cultural specialty care was a natural. Says CEO David Sack: “Elements has grown – it’s at the core of our growth model, really – by meeting the needs of specialty populations and just by, generally speaking, being focused on delivering care that is highly tailored to the specific needs of the client.” Of course, there are few things, if anything, more important than the language one speaks in terms of delivering on a specific client need. And the fact that Elements’ Hispanic program at Lucida is literally virtually the only program of its kind nationwide – a fully integrated Spanish language culturally Latin American designed addictions therapeutic program – speaks volumes about how difficult it is to recruit the right talent to get such programs off the ground.

Equipo Ensueño

The multi-cultural clinical “Dream Team” to which we refer to above in Spanish is based on a key hire late last year of two Miami-based therapists, Ray Estefania and Ana Moreno. As co-founders of Family Recovery Specialists the two have worked together in South Florida for more than a dozen years building a Hispanic multi-cultural practice and studying the particularities of delivering care to a Latin American census. These two, working together, have formed the intellectual underpinnings and design of the Hispanic multi-cultural program at Lucida, according to Sack.

Key Family Role

He says absolutely key insights into the Latin American way of life, and how that links up with a greater chance of successful outcomes, has come out of the many years Estefania and Moreno spent researching these links while in private practice. One of these insights was the importance of immediately integrating the family into the treatment process. – there are few  cultures anywhere where the family unit still takes on the kind of importance, and is as tight as it is, than with Latin Americans. “Most programs in the U.S. actively discourage any family communication and involvement until well into the treatment stay, believing the client will defocus from their recovery,” says Sack.

For The Family

He also says the Spanish language therapeutic capability plays an absolutely key role when it comes to the highly integrated family involvement. “Many times the clients, who tend to be younger, have decent, and even quite fluent, English language skills,” Sack says.”But more often than not it’s the parents and grandparents that need the Spanish, which becomes important too in driving home that the problem for the client has primarily become addiction – which because of much higher levels of stigma in Latin American families, the familyoften tend to want to strongly downplay addiction in favor of more socially acceptable psychiatric and psychological diagnoses like depression, bi-polar and like.”

Unique Facility

There are very few facilities in the South Florida market that can be described as unique for that market – Florida House with its incredible multi-acre therapeutic community style property is one, and BHOPB’s Sea Side Palm Beach located right on Ocean Drive without the need to resort to the Florida Model is another – but we here at Treatment Magazine believe that Elements Behavioral’s Lucida property pretty much falls into that unique category. That’s because they have been able to expertly arbitrage what is a Florida Model licensure into what for the client is a completely non-Florida Model experience – no busing between housing and clinical – in a seriously  sweet property steps away from the Intracoastal that is very large –70 beds in a grouping of nine townhomes. For now, the multi-cultural programis only expected to fill 15-20 of those beds.

Cautious Outlook

While Sack is cautious about predicting a day when the multi-cultural program fills all 70 beds at Lucida, we here at Treatment Magazine are much less so. While a growing addictions ‘hub’ in Costa Rica does represent a competitive threat, U.S.  addictions care is still seen as the Gold Standard, which is especially true in prosperous countries like Chile that have a status conscious and very fast growing upper middle class increasingly able to afford places like Lucida. And then there is the local South Florida market, itself bulging with Hispanics. To us, it all seems to add up to a possible big home run.TJ