Edgewood has partnered with Toronto-based Bellwood Health Services to create a national addictions treatment network.
Edgewood opened its Toronto office in early 2014 and the two firms combined services in September. Together they have the potential to become one of Canada’s biggest treatment providers for adult addiction and mental health treatment.
Lorne Hildebrand, executive director of Edgewood in Nanaimo, said the partnership is in part a response to insurance companies looking to place clients across Canada in treatment centres offering recognized standard treatment methods and standardized pricing for services.
“Insurance companies like Great-West Life are simply saying to us the treatment landscape in Canada looks like a couple of big treatment centres and a whole bunch of smaller centres, everybody doing different things, everybody charging different prices, everybody claiming they’re the best,” Hildebrand said.
He said since 2008, economic conditions contributed to mergers between various treatment facilities and also between independent treatment professionals, adding there is concern that if Canadian facilities don’t act first a large U.S. treatment firm could come across the border and potentially take over and dominate the Canadian addiction treatment business.
“I thought we needed to be proactive, so there was both what our referrals were asking [us to do] and what the market was telling us – that there were changes coming down the pike,” Hildebrand said.
Edgewood formed in Nanaimo in 1994 as a locally based alcohol and addictions treatment centre and has evolved into the Edgewood Health Network, with outpatient addiction services centres in Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Seattle.
Bellwood Health Services, operating since 1984, is now part of the Edgewood Health Network. Edgewood plans to open 20 new outpatient offices over the next two years and is also looking to open inpatient treatment centres in Quebec and the Maritimes.
To serve referral agencies in a national market, Edgewood developed what Hildebrand calls the easy screening tool, based on client placement criteria recognized by the American Society of Addictions Medicine and the American Psychiatry Association, which have established industry-wide accepted guidelines and reasons for placing clients in specific treatment programs and facilities.
For now, Edgewood staff are learning how to merge two treatment organizations with similar philosophies, but slightly different ways of doing things.
“We’ve had to send a lot of people from Nanaimo to Toronto and that’s been kind of interesting,” Hildebrand said. “There’s a lot of people who don’t even know what Nanaimo is. They just look at you and go, ‘Nanaimo? There’s a centre of excellence in Nanaimo, like, who are you?’ So that’s been kind of fun to deal with that.”