Silver Hill Hospital: A Northeast Addictions Center Resurgent

Written by Ted Jackson 
May 2012
As years passed80-year-old-Silver Hill Hospital slowly began to lose some of the big caché tied to its venerable name, which had long been associated with delivering the top private care in New York’s environs. It’s multi-acre Connecticut campus – complete with its own bridge offering views of Silver Hill's new Martin Center, designed by the famous Richard Turlington, houses the new pain and addictions programrushing streams- had grown to include over a dozen buildings – houses and structures that had been built and acquired over time. It was into this tableau of facilities that Richard Turlington recently stepped. One of the world’s most famous designers and architects, his work at Silver Hill has run the gamut from the throwing of a room together to multimillion dollar rebuilds and redesigns. One such project is the Martin Center, pictured left, which more than any other build – not to mention the cutting-edge program housed within – represents a newly resurgent Silver Hill Hospital well on its way to recouping, and even surpassing, the caché and prestige of yore.

Pain, Pain…go away

As Turlington was kept busy revitalizing the Silver Hill campus – not-at-all institutional looking or feeling, with its houses and other buildings melding seamlessly into the quaint suburban setting – executives and clinicians began to plot the clinical comeback. Chief among these efforts, in a initiative that is likely to emerge as quite as famous as Silver Hill itself, is a program that melds addiction treatment and cutting edge pain management interventions. And Richard Turlington is not by any means the only rock star-like talent that has been attracted to Silver Hill. Heading the new Chronic Pain and Addiction Program will be Dr. Seddon Savage of Dartmouth fame, current president of the American Pain Society and world famous when it comes to knowing how to treat chronic, debilitating pain.

Dr. Seddon Savage

“I joined the program here at Silver Hill because it is totally unique in the Northeast,” said Savage, adding she expects that most who complete the program will be drug free. “But a flexible approach will be maintained about meds.” Indeed, that flexibility was evident throughout Silver Hills’ addiction programs. As 

The Men's Residence, Silver Hill addictions program
Treatment Magazine strolled the grounds – addictions is housed, mostly, across the street from the famous white Main House clustered around the newly revamped Martin Center -.we saw clients working on their computers and talking on their cells. While this is not uncommon on the West Coast, where centers basically did away with treatment communication blackouts years ago, Silver Hill is among the very few large private centers, likely the only one so far, to adopt the consumer friendly and highly popular modalities of the Malibu market. Betty Ford is the example of a large, hidebound center that refused to see changes emerging in its own backyard, even railing against Malibu as the model grew and was widely imitated. Thus, Betty Ford emerged as the marginal player when recession hit, with tragic erosion of a big treatment brand that has become a Betty ‘Affordable’ due to weak pricing power driven by a diving census.

Silver Hill Rising

While Silver Hill CEO Sigurd Ackerman did not participate in this Special Report, our discussions with high-end Malibu style centers throughout California over the years indicate a very high percentage of these centers’ business are “fly-ins” from the East Coast – the very demographic that years ago Silver Hill considered to be its very own its private preserve. That Silver Hill is again laying claim to what was once its birthright Famed Dartmouth Prof Dr Seddon Savage heads Silver Hills new pain programas by far the Northeast’s toniest psychiatric player there can be no doubt. And it has done so, whether intentionally or not, by creating a milieu that very closely resembles a Malibu style 

addiction treatment experience… and the very best of them at that. Silver Hill’s addictions properties are closely grouped together along the banks of the picturesque stream, the men’s and women’s residential both being former family homes expertly refurbished and upgraded by Turlington. The feeling is one of being totally non-institutional and of almost complete integration into the surrounding residential neighborhood, something rarely achieved at East Coast addictions facilities.

Financial Turnaround

That Silver Hill is competing vigorously at the highest level is evident by the steady rise in private pay revenue, the toughest consumer arena in addiction treatment. As of Feb 2011, fully 45 percent of Silver Hill’s revenues came from private pay – cash out-of-pocket – up from 41 percent in 2009. Since cash pay often carries higher margins, it is not surprising that operating earnings have jumped to $2.3M from a loss of about $1.5M in 2009. During the period, revenues surged by about 20 percent to $31.5M.