An Interview with Keith Arnold, Vice President of Operations at Elements Behavioral Health

Keith Arnold’s passion is bringing out the best in people and companies. He has worked with many different organizations in a range of fields, having started his career in management consulting. Working in the addiction treatment field for the past 16 years has been the most rewarding time of his career.

“I really enjoy being a catalyst in somebody’s life, helping them become free of addiction and un-manageability. In the addiction treatment field, we have the honor and good fortune to support people in their darkest moments, helping them turn their lives around. What we do in this field is nothing short of remarkable,” Keith said of working at Elements Behavioral Health, the parent company of Promises Treatment Centers.

Keith graduated from Rollins College in Florida with a degree in psychology and a concentration in business. After doing post-graduate work at Boston College, he became the Director of Client Services for ExecuTrack Systems, a management consulting firm that worked with Fortune 1000 companies, helping their management teams work together and enhance performance. “This position gave me a great appreciation for looking at and resolving issues within organizations, while working with talented people and bringing out the best in them,” Keith said.

After moving to Phoenix, Arizona, Keith was recruited by Sierra Tucson, a large psychiatric hospital and treatment center for addictions and behavioral disorders. “In the early 90s, Sierra Tucson collapsed from 300 beds to a census of less than 30,” Keith said. “I believe they hired me to work with management to help turn the organization around. I was brought on as the Director of Marketing, and we were able to increase the client population to 118 by 2008. Sierra Tucson also became one of the most successful treatment centers in the country by the time I left to join Elements Behavioral Health,” he added.

David Sack, CEO of Elements Behavioral Health, approached Keith regarding the job at Elements. Keith met with David and some of the investors, and immediately accepted the position. “How could I not work with David? He’s one of the smartest people I know,” Keith said. “He understands both clinical integrity and the research, he’s phenomenal with our Board, he knows how to run a successful business, and he never loses sight of what’s important—the clients and their families,” Keith continued.

“I left Sierra Tucson to co-create something even more incredible, to help develop Elements Behavioral Health into an organization that hadn’t really existed before, with respect to quality, continuum of care, and a phenomenal staff. We wanted to develop a new type of behavioral health organization, and we did,” Keith said.

As the Vice President of Operations at Elements, Keith’s initial role was to help develop the team of Regional Outreach Directors, clinical marketers who service different parts of the country, acting as resources and cultivating appropriate referrals for Promises Treatment Centers.

“Most of my time is spent with the Regional Outreach Directors, meeting with psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists and learning about their practices and the therapies they’re using,” Keith said. “I’m always gathering information about what people want in a treatment center, and how we can do a better job of providing those services and enhancing the quality of care we deliver. Without their feedback, collaboration, and trust, we wouldn’t exist.”

Keith also works with sales and marketing, corporate branding, professional relations, admissions, alumni services, clinical programming, and Internet operations. “I travel a lot in this position, but I’ll talk to a client, family member, or referent day or night. I’m never far away from what’s going on at the client level,” Keith said.

When asked what makes Promises stand out as a treatment center, Keith said that Promises provides individualized attention to a client’s own clinical process and develops treatment programs based on each client’s individual needs.

“Because we’re small and intimate, we can provide an environment that embraces each client’s health and wellness,” he said. “People act out in treatment for attention; at Promises, each client gets attention without having to act out. We provide a remarkable level of clinical intimacy that allows clients to focus on themselves and the work they need to do.”

Keith added that Promises will go to any length to get clients the help they need. “We’ll meet with clients at 3:00 in the morning,” Keith said. “What we do here is personal. It’s not just a business; it’s about helping people, and we never lose sight of that. No matter how much we grow, we will never be far away from the clients. It’s not about building a kingdom of treatment centers; it’s about helping one person at a time.”

Promises also helps clients develop daily living skills that translate to the real world, integrating real-life activities with the safety of being in a residential, supervised environment. “One of the challenges other treatment centers can face is that clients are often ill-equipped to go home because they haven’t left the facility in 30 days. At Promises, clients leave the premises under staff supervision for meetings and activities, which helps them when they transition back into the community,” Keith explained.

“The longer a client stays in treatment, the better they’ll be able to apply the skills they gained in treatment to the real world,” Keith said. “Helping people make real, sustainable, healthy changes can be the difference between life and death. At Promises, we choose life.”

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