Betty Ford Center to break ground on $30 million expansion, renovation

May 4 event will commemorate 39 years of hope and healing and kick off effort to expand access and help more people
Learn About Hazelden Betty Ford

Rancho Mirage, California (April 27, 2021) —As addiction and mental health needs rise in California and across America, the Betty Ford Center will launch its most significant expansion since opening almost four decades ago with a groundbreaking event on May 4. 

The four-year, $30 million project—to include construction of three new buildings and updates to the grounds—will transform the campus of the treatment center founded by former First Lady Betty Ford and former U.S. Ambassador Leonard Firestone in 1982, enabling it to meet increasing demand for services, respond to evolving needs and help more people.

"We have been honored to provide healing and hope to thousands of individuals and families at the Betty Ford Center, and with the continued generosity of grateful alumni and other donors, will build upon Mrs. Ford's legacy by transforming the campus and expanding access to quality care," said Mark G. Mishek, president and CEO of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the nation's largest nonprofit system of addiction treatment, co-occurring mental health care, recovery resources and related prevention and education services.

"The impact of substance use and mental health disorders is growing due to a number of factors including the tremendous stress and strain of the COVID-19 pandemic," Mishek added. "Amid record-high overdoses, and the daily pain experienced by millions of families struggling through the chaos of addiction, it is imperative that we build capacity to help more people; create more flexible ways to engage with services; provide healing spaces that reflect the dignity and respect all health care patients deserve; and amplify the attractive, stigma-busting reality that treatment is effective and recovery works."

Mishek, who is retiring at the end of June, and incoming President and CEO Joseph Lee, MD, will be among those at the groundbreaking event, along with Hazelden Betty Ford Trustee Susan Ford Bales—daughter of President and Mrs. Ford—and special guests.

"I am so heartened to know my mother's legacy and impact continue to grow," Ford Bales said. "The Betty Ford Center is a special place to thousands of people already, and my mom would be thrilled to see our caring community open its arms to even more people."

"We will celebrate hope, recovery and growth in a spirit of fierce, solemn commitment to those who still suffer," added Chris Yadron, PhD, vice president of Recovery Services for Hazelden Betty Ford's West Region and administrator of the Betty Ford Center. "Betty Ford was a beacon of hope to others, and this historic expansion will enable her light to shine brighter and longer at a time when more people are lost in the pain and isolation of addiction." 

When the project is finished in 2025, the Betty Ford Center, which has 184 beds today, will have 240 beds—including many more at the day-treatment level of care, which is less intense than residential care but the highest level of intensity and support offered through outpatient care. The campus will grow from 137,200 square feet to 170,000 square feet.

"More space means room for more people to heal," Dr. Yadron said. "By expanding our capacity by 56 beds, several hundred more people will be able to get the help they need each year. We'll also be increasing safety, improving access by implementing the very latest ADA requirements, and expanding our ability to improve outcomes by keeping people engaged in a long-term continuum that spans multiple levels of care."

The first phase of the project, approved by Rancho Mirage city officials last fall, includes construction of a new, one-story, 22,748-square-foot Day Treatment Pavilion that will accommodate flexible treatment options for 44 patients and include offices for counselors; group rooms for treatment; and an auditorium for lectures, education and training. Phase 1 also includes updates to landscaping and parking spaces, as well as the development of a convenient, new entrance to the campus.

With the new entrance, the Betty Ford Center will no longer rely on a shared entrance with its neighbors at Eisenhower Medical Center and will, for the first time, have its own unique address. Once approved by the U.S. Postal Service, the address will likely be 39407 Vista Del Sol—407 selected in homage to Mrs. Ford's April 7 sobriety anniversary.

"By boldly sharing her addiction and recovery with the world, Betty Ford shattered stigma, brought unprecedented visibility, humanity and dignity to addiction treatment and mental health care; and invited others to seek help free of shame. That's one reason we're so excited to build a new, more visible and accessible Betty Ford Center entrance that proudly welcomes all who seek change, no matter who they are or where they are from," Dr. Yadron said.

The Betty Ford Center currently has four residential buildings with 20 beds each, plus a fifth 20-bed building for medical stabilization and other services, as well as 84 sober living units on nearby Daisy Lane. Phase 2 of the expansion, planned to begin in 2023, will include removing two of the existing residential buildings and constructing a new two-story, 20,935-square-foot residential pavilion with 46 beds. A second, similar residential treatment pavilion will be constructed in Phase 3 (2024), replacing the other two existing residential buildings.

"The generosity of our supporters, many of whom initiated their own recovery at the Betty Ford Center, is paving the way to a new era of healing and hope for the next generation and beyond," Dr. Yadron said.

The groundbreaking will be held on-site, with virtual viewing open to the public (register for the Betty Ford Center groundbreaking here).

About the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation

The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is a force of healing and hope for individuals, families and communities affected by addiction to alcohol and other drugs. As the nation's leading nonprofit provider of comprehensive inpatient and outpatient addiction and mental health care for adults and youth, the Foundation has treatment centers and telehealth services nationwide as well as a network of collaborators throughout health care. Through charitable support and a commitment to innovation, the Foundation is able to continually enhance care, research, programs and services, and help more people. With a legacy that began in 1949 and includes the 1982 founding of the Betty Ford Center, the Foundation today is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in its services and throughout the organization, which also encompasses a graduate school of addiction studies, a publishing division, an addiction research center, recovery advocacy and thought leadership, professional and medical education programs, school-based prevention resources and a specialized program for children who grow up in families with addiction.