Father Martin's Ashley, which operates a nonprofit drug and alcohol addiction treatment center in Harford County, broke ground Wednesday for a new 44,000-square-foot, $20 million treatment facility, supported in large part by a $13 million gift from the Skip Viragh Foundation.
The building will be called Skip's Hall for Integrated Addiction Treatment, according to a news release.
About 150 people attended the ceremony on the 147-acre campus along the Chesapeake Bay in Havre de Grace, including top Father Martin's Ashley officials, board members and relatives of people who have been successfully treated at the facility.
Those relatives are known at Father Martin's Ashley as "grateful families," Lisa Bucklin, director of marketing and public relations, said Thursday.
She recalled one man who said during the ceremony that his late wife was treated there for an addiction to alcohol, treatment that not only saved her life, but also saved their marriage and their family.
"It's kind of the reason why we get up each morning, to hear things like that," Bucklin said.
She said former U.S. Sen. Joseph Tydings also attended Wednesday's ceremony. He grew up on the property the Tydings family sold to Father Martin's Ashley.
The $13 million contribution from the Skip Viragh Foundation is part of a Father Martin's Ashley capital campaign to raise $20 million to build the new treatment center, which is expected to open in late 2015 and support new programs.
So far, $18 million has been raised; Ashley officials are encouraging the public to contribute the remaining $2 million.
Bucklin said anyone who wants to contribute should visit http://www.fathermartinsashley.org/donate for more information.
Viragh, who died in December 2003, founded Rydex Investments in Rockville; the company has grown from a three-person operation to having 200 employees and $10 billion in assets, according to the news release.
"A gift of this magnitude signifies a deep understanding of addiction as our nation's most serious public health crisis and further validates Ashley's approach to addiction treatment," Fr. Mark Hushen, CEO for Father Martin's Ashley, said in a statement.
Hushen added: "Skip's Hall for Integrated Addiction Treatment reflects Ashley's nearly 32-year commitment to treating the whole person – the biological, psychological, social and spiritual health of each patient."
The building will provide space for "a larger platform" for Ashley's Pain Recovery Program, which was created to address a growing number of people becoming addicted to prescription medication. The building will also have a fitness and wellness center and admissions and nursing areas.
"Research has evolved dramatically in the last five to 10 years and we know much more about addiction as a brain disease as well as the role of co-occurring medical conditions, both physical and behavioral," Dr. Bernadette Solounias, vice president of treatment services at Ashley, said in the statement. "The new building will facilitate integrated, individualized treatment designed for the 21st century patient who requires a multi-disciplinary approach."
Skip's Hall for Integrated Addiction Treatment has the capacity for 100 patients and will give staff the ability to provide round-the-clock care for patients who have "co-occurring medical or psychological conditions," according to the news release.