Ashley Addiction Treatment is getting back to its co-leadership roots while also branching out into new directions, especially when it comes to its portfolio of offerings.
Earlier this month, the substance use disorder (SUD) treatment provider announced that executives Alex Denstman and Greg Hobelmann are being jointly promoted to the company’s top position. They’ll take the reins from current CEO Dave Nassef in March.
As co-CEOs, the pair says their goal is to uphold the company’s mission of providing optimum care to as many people as possible, doing that in part by growing Ashley’s outpatient offerings and research capabilities.
“We want to grow and serve more people, so we’ll do anything and everything in the interest of helping us fulfill our mission,” Denstman, who is currently Ashley’s senior vice president and chief growth officer, told Behavioral Health Business.
Based in Havre de Grace, Maryland, Ashley is a not-for-profit provider of residential SUD treatment that offers the continuum of care. Founded back in 1983 by Father Joseph C. Martin and Mae Abraham, co-leadership has always been at the organization’s core.
While Ashley has gotten away from that model in recent years, the idea in revisiting it is to best cover all the bases that come with being CEO.
As such, Denstman will oversee business development and operations in the new position, while Hobelmann, who is also currently Ashley’s senior vice president and chief medical and clinical officer, will be responsible for all direct care services. Both men will work on strategic growth planning, care model development, budgeting and executive-level hiring, among other shared responsibilities.
“We have this complementary skill set with regard to running an organization like this,” Hobelmann told BHB. “We’ve worked together and been close friends for years, so we share common values, a common vision and it creates a smooth transition for Ashley.”
When they take over in March, Hobelmann and Denstman will drop their current titles, though they’ve yet to decide which of those positions they’ll refill.
“We’re not just going to backfill our current positions, necessarily,” Denstman said. “We’ll be figuring that out in the next year or two.”
Instead, the pair’s initial and primary focus will be on creating sustainability for the organization to forward its mission. Growth will be a big part of that — but not just any growth.
“We are going to grow organically,” Denstman said. “We’re not looking to grow for growth’s sake, necessarily. We’re going to look first to improve our current systems and make sure they’re the most evidence-based, effective programs possible. And then we’ll grow where we see the need.”
Over the past year, those needs have been satisfied with the addition of new services and offerings.
Ashley has diversified its treatment portfolio, establishing several new clinical programs and strategic collaborations to better serve more patients. Some of those additions include partial hospitalization programming (PHP), women’s extended care programming and expansions at one of Ashley’s outpatient treatment centers.
It’s likely that sort of growth will continue for Ashley, with the new company leaders especially bullish on outpatient care.
“The outpatient arena is where we’re probably going to see our ability to treat a larger number of patients, so we do suspect a lot with the growth in that area,” Hobelmann said.
Despite Ashley’s reputation as a residential treatment provider, the bulk of its patients are in the outpatient setting. While it currently has about 100 patients in residential, it boasts about 250 across its outpatient locations, according to Denstman.
Additionally, Ashley has outpatient partnerships Upper Chesapeake Health, which is part of the University of Maryland Health System, and Union Hospital, which is part of ChristianaCare Health System. It continues to hear from health systems interested in setting up similar arrangements, which Ashley is considering.
More long-term, Denstman and Hobelmann, both of whom are in long-term recovery themselves, could also consider further developing its 140-acre Havre de Grace residential campus.
“That’s more like in 5 to 10 years and beyond,” Denstman said. “Those aren’t those immediate growth initiatives. But over time, as the opportunities present themselves and we have a greater understanding of what needs we can fill, there could be more development on the existing property.”
On top of treating more patients, Denstman and Hobelmann want to make treatment better. As such, they’re interested in growing Ashley’s research capabilities for the betterment of the organization and the addiction treatment field as a whole.
“We want to ask the questions, provide the outcome data, do the research that will help inform the larger community,” Hobelmann said. “We’re looking to do that through partnerships with other organizations, primarily with academic institutions.”
To some extent, Ashley is already tackling those goals with Johns Hopkins University, with whom it’s worked for years. In fact, SUD treatment provider has a Hopkins professor on staff who spends 40% of his time with Ashley and who has brought a team to help with his efforts.
“It’s going to be a large initiative here to grow that research department,” Hobelmann said. “We’ll continue to nurture that relationship with Hopkins, and potentially with other organizations as well.”
And while many of Denstman and Hobelmann’s goals are lofty, they’re confident they have time to get them done.
“We’re both young, so we’re hoping to serve in these roles and work together for many years to come,” Denstman said.