Center City, Minnesota (June 23, 2021) — Thanks to generous donors, officials at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation cut the ribbon on a large, new outdoor playground and family area at the national addiction treatment leader's largest campus and headquarters north of Minneapolis, and surprised retiring President and CEO Mark G. Mishek and his wife Joan by naming it in their honor. The nonprofit also announced that the admissions building at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., will soon bear Mishek's name as well. The new Joan and Mark Mishek Family Green continues a decade-long, ongoing transformation at Hazelden Betty Ford's rural campus on the shores of South Center Lake near Center City, Minn., where the organization was founded in 1949. Earlier this year, a new two-story building for the Cronin and Promises residential treatment units also opened there. And later this summer, a beautiful outdoor water fountain will be installed.
At the Betty Ford Center in California, which recently broke ground on its own $30 million expansion and renovation, the admissions building welcomes patients and families, providing their first glimmer of hope for healing and recovery. Inspired by its design after leading the 2014 merger of the Hazelden Foundation and Betty Ford Center, Mishek renovated the Center City admissions area in the image of what soon will be renamed and dedicated as the Mark G. Mishek Admissions Center in Rancho Mirage.
"One intangible but important way we help our patients find hope and healing is by caring for them in a setting that conveys dignity and respect and sends the message they are every bit as important and worthy of help as anyone else receiving healthcare for any other condition," said incoming President and CEO Joseph Lee, MD, who takes over on June 28. "Mark Mishek's vision and the generosity of our supporters have paved the way to a new era of dignified care at Hazelden Betty Ford's treatment centers around the country. It's a fitting tribute to Mark's legacy to permanently attach his name to healing spaces on our two largest and most storied campuses."
The playground and family green in Center City will be used by kids ages 7-12 in the Hazelden Betty Ford Children's Program and their families, as well as families visiting adult patients and those participating in the Hazelden Betty Ford Family Program. It was inspired by Mishek's daughter Emily, who had long advocated for a playground. She spoke at the dedication, and her own kids got to give the equipment a test run.
"Living in a family touched by addiction doesn't mean that you don't still get to be a family," she said. "I knew in my heart that for my children and other children who visit this campus that this addition would mean the world to them—that this playground would tell them, 'You belong here, we planned for you to be here, and this is a place where you are welcome.' What a gift to see this come to life and become part of my dad's legacy."
After the ribbon-cutting, Mishek was also surprised with the news that his final day as President and CEO – June 25, 2021 – has been declared Mark G. Mishek Day in the cities of Rancho Mirage, Center City and his hometown of St. Paul, and that Gov. Tim Walz has declared the same throughout the state of Minnesota.
"It's a real blessing when one becomes part of a mission and a cause greater than oneself, and is allowed to pour themselves into it. I've been able to do that at Hazelden Betty Ford and, for that, I am eternally grateful," Mishek said. "My heart has always been here, and the mission will always call to me."
During his highly lauded tenure—captured in a tribute video that was another surprise—Mishek led the historic merger of Hazelden and the Betty Ford Center, establishing the largest nonprofit system of addiction treatment, mental health care, recovery resources and related prevention and education services in the nation. He and his clinical teams responded to the emerging opioid epidemic by making Hazelden Betty Ford the first major addiction treatment provider in America to integrate the use of medications with psychosocial therapies and peer support to create a comprehensive new approach to treating opioid addiction. In addition to innovation, Mishek aggressively pursued collaboration and positioned Hazelden Betty Ford as a quality, ethical healthcare provider whose services are available in-network through most major health insurance plans. Today, Hazelden Betty Ford has sites across the country and offers virtual care through its behavioral health service. It serves well over 25,000 patients annually—more than double what it did when Mishek arrived—and a growing number of people nationally through its graduate school, publishing division, research center, professional and medical education branch, school- and community-based prevention programs and public advocacy arm.
Mishek also successfully navigated Hazelden Betty Ford through the first 15 months of the COVID-19 pandemic and initiated many ongoing priorities, including a transformational, multiyear fundraising campaign; significant expansions in virtual services, prevention, and professional education and consultation; and new construction to grow service capacity in several locations. He also established diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) as a strategic priority starting in 2019; empowered a robust, cross-functional DEI Committee; and recently hired a DEI director.
"Mark has transformed vision into reality, multiplying Hazelden Betty Ford's reach, influence and impact, and transforming the organization into an efficiently-run, national system of care that provides quality treatment and services, demonstrates strong outcomes, and is valued and trusted by patients, families, partners and payers alike," said Lester Munson, of Chicago, who chairs the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Board of Trustees. "The spaces named in his honor will be lasting reminders of his leadership, the foundation he built for Hazelden Betty Ford's bright future, and the fact that he was always guided by empathy, respect and a deep love and intense focus on the individuals and families who turn to us for help every day."
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. Learn more at HazeldenBettyFord.org and on Twitter.