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Director announced for new SWFAS detoxification center

By Staff | May 23, 2008

Construction of Southwest Florida Addiction Services’ new detoxification center in Fort Myers is well under way. In preparation for the facility’s official opening next spring, the organization has named a director for the center, Bill Emonz.

The groundbreaking for the facility was held on Feb. 28, where local elected officials and representatives of SWFAS moved the first pieces of earth before construction began. The project will cost a total of $9.5 million to complete and is largely funded by private donors.

This new center will be a residential and outpatient facility, with more than 44,000 square feet and 40 beds for those combating addiction. It will be located next to the Southwest Florida Regional Medical Center.

Kevin Lewis, the chief executive officer for SWFAS, recently appointed Emonz as the director of the new facility. He will be responsible for the new center, upon its completion, as well as the existing center.

“We are delighted to have someone with Bill’s experience lead our detoxification center programming into its next phase of development,” said Lewis.

Emonz has been working in the addictions field for over 30 years as a clinician and administrator. Before coming to SWFAS in 2006, he worked as the assistant director of an 80-bed facility in Louisville, Ky., called the Jefferson Alcohol and Drug Abuse Center.

He received his bachelor of arts degree in psychology and religion from Palm Beach Atlantic College and a master of science degree in the management of substance abuse services from Lesley College in Cambridge, Mass.

According to Emonz, the new facility will satisfy a need in the community.

“As a society, we are intervening at an earlier stage with our addiction patients,” said Emonz. “The new larger detoxification center will give us the opportunity to bring even more family involvement, enhancing the potential for recovery.”

According to SWFAS, the population of people afflicted with addictions has tripled over the past 20 years. But, Lewis explained, the amount of available detoxification beds in the area has dropped from 28 to 25 since 1984.

Emonz said that already there are a number of people on a waiting list to receive treatment for addictions.

“Our waiting list has been averaging approximately 30 people at any given time and this new facility will give us the opportunity to serve a lot more of the waiting patients,” he said.

Recently, private donors David and Linda Lucas pledged $100,000 for the construction of the new facility. Their donation was in honor of Peter and Eleanore Kleist, well-known local philanthropists. Also, the Public Education Room at the new facility will be named in honor of the Kleists.

So far SWFAS has raised approximately $6.1 million toward the construction project.

“We are very grateful to David and Linda Lucas for recognizing the importance of providing treatment for residents with the chronic disease of addiction, which impacts one in five people in our community,” said Lewis.