|By Art VanDivier, Executive Director
I started working at La Hacienda while in graduate school in 1979. Opening in 1972, La Hacienda was already established as a drug and alcohol rehab center and has remained so for the past 41 years. As a new counselor I volunteered to sit with a patient that was having a difficult withdrawal from heroin. That was my first exposure to the “old Special Care Unit”. It was set up like a ward with 5 beds on the male side and 5 female beds in a room across the hall. Each bed was separated by a curtain which offered visual privacy but little relief from the sounds of ill patients.
The Special Care Unit was licensed in 1972 by the State of Texas as a 10-bed Specialty Hospital. Several years ago when the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (TCADA) merged with the Texas Department of Health, La Hacienda was issued a certification for a detoxification unit. At that point, we began to entertain the idea of building a new Special Care Unit. The old SCU had served us well, it was always clean and presentable and people from all walks of life had gotten sober within its walls, but it was time to upgrade.
We are very proud of how all of this came together. Three years ago our architect drew some impressive plans that nestled a new 2-story SCU against the side of the hill incorporating our old SCU. Joining the new and old buildings presented some unique challenges so we hesitated on accepting the final plan. One day as Frost Readel and I were walking the campus, Frost looked at the visitor parking lot and said “You know, I think that’s the ideal place for the new SCU.” I had an instant “ah ha” moment. We went right to Lori Dittmar’s office, our CFO, and shared Frost‘s idea. Next we called our architect and he said “that sounds like a promising idea but I need to come out and measure as I’m not sure the building will fit in the space.” The following week at our Governing Body meeting, we took our proposal to the owners. They listened attentively, took a deep breath and said their classic phrase ‘it’s all just a matter of stepping out in faith, let’s do it’. Our architect set to work conceptualizing the plans with help from Rikke Sorensen and Vorsha Sherfield, our Nurse Administrator and Nurse Manager.
We are so proud of this addition to La Hacienda and it also allows us to be of service to the community. Intensive Outpatient Programs are designed to help people that do not need the structured environment of residential treatment, but may require monitored detox services. This is an opportunity for La Hacienda to provide those services and we are very excited about expanding available services within the local treatment community.
Being a part of La Hacienda’s growth into one of the finest chemical dependency treatment centers in the nation has been a lifetime reward for me. All of this has happened because of the commitment of the employees and the willingness of the owners to sacrifice and invest back into La Hacienda. We are all part of the family that has kept La Hacienda strong and I just cannot emphasize enough how important that is!