An Interview with Dr. Ash Bhatt, Medical Director at The Recovery Place
Ashish Bhatt, MD, has the blend of knowledge, warmth and attention to detail we all look for in a doctor. He is a triple board certified physician who has diverse experience in various substance abuse and dual diagnosis programs for adults and adolescents. As his colleagues will attest, Dr. Bhatt settles for nothing less than excellence from himself and the clinicians at The Recovery Place, Elements’ Florida drug rehab.
“There is no comprising in medicine,” he says. “We treat each patient as we would our own family and strive to be as accurate as possible in everything we do.”
Even if a patient arrives at The Recovery Place with previous diagnoses, Dr. Bhatt approaches them as if they are being evaluated for the first time. This ensures that every patient has an accurate diagnosis that addresses where they are now, not where they were in the past.
“I don’t take a previous diagnosis at face value. At The Recovery Place, every patient gets a second opinion,” he says. “We start from the beginning using a comprehensive assessment that goes beyond the bio-psycho-social model to explore multiple domains of the patient’s life. This assessment then serves as the foundation for each patient’s individualized treatment plan.”
During their one-on-one, hour-long evaluation with Dr. Bhatt, patients learn about any medications they are taking as well as the underlying factors that make them feel the way they do. Many patients tell him, “This is the first time anyone has taken the time to explain this to me in this way.”
Making a Difference in a Broken System
Intense and exacting, Dr. Bhatt is also a lot of fun. He can afford to give 100 percent to his patients because he balances his professional life with a happy, rewarding personal life.
Born in England, his family relocated to Florida early on in his life. In the early 90s, prior to attending medical school, Dr. Bhatt was involved in the development of assisted living facilities. Working with people that had comorbid psychiatric issues and substance abuse, his heart went out to the patients who were labeled with a certain diagnosis and treated in one-size-fits-all fashion without regard to whether substance abuse caused the psychiatric disturbance or vice versa. Not surprisingly, the patients weren’t getting better.
“I got into the field because I am fascinated by the mind, yet saw that the mental health system was so broken,” Dr. Bhatt explains. “Unlike other areas of medicine where you can see pathology on X-rays or a physical examination, the mind is abstract. You can’t see it, touch it or smell it. In that sense, the mind is the final frontier in medicine.”
Coming from a culture that at one time stigmatized mental illness, Dr. Bhatt was fortunate to have an open-minded family that supported his interest in psychiatry from the start. He began his general psychiatry training in New York then returned to Florida where he further specialized in child and adolescent psychiatry and addiction medicine at the University of Miami.
A Passion for Helping People
In a field that is continuously changing, one thing that has remained constant is Dr. Bhatt’s passion for helping people. A former assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Miami, he is a natural teacher. His core beliefs came about as a result of training doctors to become independent practitioners – a job that required him to “practice what he preached.”
Prior to joining The Recovery Place, Dr. Bhatt served as medical director of an adolescent crisis unit and an adult intensive psychiatric unit at Jackson Memorial Hospital, worked as a psychiatrist in substance abuse treatment programs, and headed a detox unit.
In April 2011, he joined The Recovery Place, where he oversees medical treatment and care for all clients. On a daily basis, he performs psychiatric evaluations, provides direction to the clinical team, and ensures that patients receive an accurate diagnostic impression which is the foundation of their personalized treatment plan. What has impressed him most about The Recovery Place is the personal commitment every team member has to the organization and the patients.
He explains, “Everyone feels a sense of ownership of the facility and it shows in the work they do.”