Recovery center ready to open in old Residence Inn
Published: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 4:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 4:35 p.m.
For the past five years, a doctor from India has made an annual pilgrimage back to the UF&Shands Florida Recovery Center.
Dr. Scott Teitelbaum remembers the man's treatment clearly. He was suffering from severe depression and alcoholism, and his life was falling apart.
After more than eight months at Shands' recovery center, he was back on track.
"To witness not only the resurrection of his career, but the resurrection of his family," Teitelbaum said. "You can't put a price on that."
Teitelbaum, the medical director of the Florida Recovery Center, celebrated the opening of a new recovery center at 4001 SW 13th St. Wednesday morning with other Shands administrators and Gainesville professionals.
Shands renovated a former Marriott Residence Inn to provide in-house accommodations for individuals receiving treatment for addiction. The facility has space for up to 120 patients in two- to three-person furnished suites, Teitelbaum said, and includes a sport court, reflection pool and barbecue area on 10 wooded acres.
Dr. Michael Good, dean of the UF College of Medicine, said the facility is special because it is an academic-based health center, focused on research and health-professional education as well as patient treatment.
"That makes the Florida Recovery Center unique in both the state and the nation," Good said. "Research is intertwined in the FRC, but the FRC is known nationwide for showing that addiction therapy works."
The university was the first in the nation to require medical students to complete a rotation in addiction treatment, Good said.
Addiction therapy started at the University of Florida in 1990 with Dr. Mark Gold, chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the UF College of Medicine. Gold said he started working in the cancer center because addiction therapy meant treating smokers and smoking was associated with cancer.
Teitelbaum, a recovered addict himself, came to UF in 1997, and the first treatment center was started in 1999. FRC now has 12 full-time addiction faculty members, the largest group in the U.S., Gold said.
"This is really exciting for me. It's what I've worked towards since 1990," Gold said. "I'm surprised we're here in the shadow of the UF College of Medicine. They're proud of us."
The FRC team and its patients will move into the $6 million facility next week, Teitelbaum said. Currently the program rents out space in northwest Gainesville.
Patients come to the center from all over the U.S. About half the patients treated at the facility are impaired professionals, or individuals unable to fulfill their career requirements because of their addiction, Teitelbaum said.
"Five years after the program, 80 percent of impaired professionals are back at work," Gold said. "They come from professional sports teams, they fly in from New York."
Other individuals come to the center for treatment for diseases ranging from eating disorders to prescription pill addiction.
"The disease knows no barriers," Teitelbaum said. "No matter how much money you have, no matter how smart you are, the disease doesn't care."
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