Betty Ford Clinic Expands to Los Angeles

Betty Ford Clinic Expands LA - H 2015
Courtesy of Betty Ford Center

Betty Ford Clinic Expands LA - H 2015

The first new outpatient facility outside Palm Springs ends years of troubles for the late first lady's iconic substance abuse treatment center.

This story first appeared in the Jan. 30 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Betty Ford finally has arrived in Los Angeles. The Betty Ford Center — the iconic addiction treatment facility that has hosted such industry notables as Elizabeth Taylor, Stevie Nicks, Kelsey Grammer, Keith Urban and Lindsay Lohan since it opened in 1982 in Rancho Mirage, Calif. — is opening a new location at 10700 Santa Monica Blvd. It marks the first adult center with the late first lady's name to open outside of the Palm Springs area. (Betty Ford operates children's programs in Texas and Colorado.)

The launch of the inaugural Betty Ford outpatient facility is the first step in a planned expansion of the treatment center following its 2013 merger with the Hazelden Foundation, a Minnesota nonprofit famous for its treatment model of abstinence and 12 Step-based elements. When the two foundations merged to create the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation — forming the nation's largest nonprofit treatment organization — the goal was to put the Ford moniker on up to four outpatient clinics, says Betty Ford Center vp Jim Steinhagen.

And while opening a center close to Hollywood may seem like a no-brainer, Steinhagen says the decision had little to do with proximity to an industry prone to substance abuse. "We don't know yet where the additional locations will be, but our market research tells us that we get a lot of people from the West L.A. area," adds Steinhagen. "We'll do another market analysis to see if [additional locations] lead us north or south in California."

The merger came at an important time for Betty Ford, known in treatment circles for its "old school" approach to recovery. Before the 2011 death of its founder, Elizabeth Ann "Betty" Ford, the foundation saw the departure of her daughter, Susan Ford Bales, from a board that weathered significant — and highly publicized — infighting. Competition from luxury, for-profit treatment centers on the West Coast also took a toll.

Steinhagen admits that the merger represented a "large undertaking" but that the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is now in a good place. Ford Bales is back in the fold, and the opening of the West L.A. outpost is the "feather in our hat."

A ribbon cutting and open house is set for Jan. 28, with Louis Gossett Jr. expected to attend. Programming is scheduled to begin Feb. 2, with both patient and family support services among the clinic's offerings.