Addiction treatment center opens in Bridgeport

By Bob Buckel | Published Saturday, December 22, 2012

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Cambio. It means “change” in Spanish, and in the lives of people from all over the United States who will now find their way to Bridgeport to seek the ultimate change: recovery from addiction.

Cambio Life Recovery Center opened its doors with a ribbon-cutting Nov. 30. The private, 16-bed inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment facility occupies space in the Medical Office Building attached to North Texas Community Hospital. Its executive director, Don Johnson, has more than 20 years experience in healthcare, most of it dealing with rehab, substance abuse and psychiatric programs.

MIAMI VICE – No he’s not that Don Johnson. He’s the executive director of the new Cambio Life Recovery Center in Bridgeport. Messenger photo by Bob Buckel

“These aren’t people who took one drink and got a DWI,” Johnson, a native of New Orleans, said. “These are people whose lives have been controlled. You see the wrecks, you see the DWIs, the broken homes, the lost jobs, the legal issues.

“Some people, it’s cost them everything – their lives and the lives of others.”

Cambio has offices on the ground floor and its inpatient space occupies the entire third floor of the office building. Being attached to the hospital is an advantage in several ways.

“The hospital delivers three meals a day as well as snacks,” Johnson said. “We contract with them for dietary as well as laboratory services. We drug-test clients and employees and do random screens.”

Re-fitting the hospital-style rooms for residences was a bit of a challenge, but one that Cambio met by putting in hotel-style beds with wooden headboards, hanging curtains and artwork, putting rugs on the floor and installing wood armoires. The result is a homey, less institutional atmosphere.

There are dining areas and break rooms as well as rooms for group and individual therapy sessions. An outdoor exercise area is also being developed for use by the facility.

The inpatient program offers individual, group and family therapy as part of a 12-step program with pharmacology, nutritional and experiential therapies. It is designed to address physical, cognitive, emotional, spiritual and family dynamics to help people regain their health, maintain sobriety and sustain recovery.

Cambio is licensed by the Texas Department of State Health Services and offers a full continuum of care for the treatment of addiction disorders utilizing the latest evidence-based practices as listed by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Currently, the facility has two clients.

“Starting one of these right before the holidays is like starting a football team on Super Bowl Sunday,” Johnson laughed. “It’s hard to start up during the holiday season – it takes time to get a program up and running. You have to be very strategic. You can have all your staff and have no clients, or you can have a bunch of clients and no staff.”

Clients will come not just from this area or even Wise County, but from throughout the region and all over the U.S. Indeed, the desire to “get away” goes hand-in-hand with addiction treatment.

“We have a contract with the Transport Workers Union,” Johnson said. “They represent baggage handlers at American and other airlines. They’re not our sole contact for referrals, but just one of the many that we hope to have.”

Most staff members will be hired locally. The therapeutic personnel – counselors, etc. – have to be licensed and have experience with chemical dependency patients, Johnson said. The “line” staff are more like a nurse’s aide and can get much of their training on the job. Everyone must pass a criminal background check and drug screening, and those on probation are not eligible.

“We work to see that they understand the rules,” Johnson said. “There are certain practices that have to be put in place from day one, to make sure they’re safe, to make sure they understand the patients’ rights. These are some critical policies. It’s a huge manual.”

Right now Cambio has about seven people at the Bridgeport facility. Once it’s full, it will take about 25 people to staff it 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Cost for the private program, which is non-Medicaid and non-Medicare, is about $600 per day – an average of $18,000 for a 30-day stay.

“A lot of employers will support that it takes a month, and 30 days kind of fits in with the working class,” Johnson said. “The union will put you out of service for 30 days.

“When managed care was first introduced, they were giving people three to five days. They aren’t even out of detox in that time, and the training hasn’t really set in yet. We’ve got 30 days of intense treatment, re-educating the individual.

“Some require medication. All need to modify their thought processes.”

Johnson, who earned a BS in health information management from Louisiana Tech, and an MBA in strategic leadership from Amberton University, has a wealth of experience dealing with the treatment of addictions. Sound therapy, he said, includes addressing the physical, emotional and spiritual issues people bring with them.

“You have to understand that you’re an addict, that you’re helpless to deal with this problem and that there is a higher power,” he said. “A lot of people in treatment are atheists, but my experience is that ‘you believe in something.’

“My belief is that there are physical, emotional and spiritual issues you are going through. That’s just the way man was built. My background is that I’m a Christian. I don’t use that as a whipping board, I use it as an encouragement.

“We have seen that within 30 days that spiritual man is going to come alive, which will allow a higher power to be active in your life,” he said. “I know the road to recovery is enhanced when one comes into contact with their spiritual self.”

For more information about inpatient, outpatent and aftercare programs at Cambio Life Recovery Center in Bridgeport, call (940) 683-4222.

MAKING CAMBIO – The Bridgeport Area Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting for Cambio Life Recovery Center Nov. 30. Pictured are Dr. Shawn L. White, medical director; David Cudmore, managing partner; and Don Johnson, executive director. Messenger photo by Bob Buckel

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