May 16, 2023

Ascension Recovery Services

Ashley DeGarmo

Ashley DeGarmo

Ascension Recovery Services (Ascension RS) helps individuals and organizations build financially viable behavioral health treatment programs offering a continuum of high-quality, effective services. Since 2013, Ascension RS has assisted in opening and providing ongoing management support for intensive outpatient programs, partial hospitalization programs, residential treatment centers, recovery residences, peer recovery coach networks, and substance use disorder (SUD) workforce development programs. They have over 66 programs that serve thousands of patients across 25 states.

In 2020, Ascension RS and partner organization Smith Douglas Holdings, approached Third Horizon Strategies (THS) to support a new initiative to expand access to behavioral health treatment in the country’s most vulnerable communities. Through the U.S. EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, Ascension RS proposed developing several fully integrated mental health and SUD treatment centers. All EB-5 job-creating entity program sites must be located in areas designated as Targeted Employment Areas indicating a rural community often with a high unemployment rate. Only in rare circumstances can EB-5 investors receive expedited approval when emergencies and for urgent humanitarian reasons.

THS helped provide policy analysis and prepare background research surrounding the SUD and opioid crises impacting targeted regions for the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services which ultimately led to this unprecedented conclusion from the federal government pertaining to this program:

“Sufficient evidence to recognize the opioid epidemic as a humanitarian crisis of national interest is documented by the requestor and is well established in general public knowledge.”

After receiving the rare, expedited status recognition, THS has supported Ascension RS with many aspects of the EB-5 program’s short and long-term goals. At the onset of the work, THS provided a comprehensive strategic analysis of multiple states and regions considered strong targets for EB-5 treatment sites. Ascension RS and THS have aligned values to serve populations who are historically marginalized and lack access to care and other social needs. Therefore, the project not only evaluated factors such as reimbursement rates and market saturation but elements such as the treatment gap, demographics, and available linkages to clinical and non-clinical services. 

To support long-term viability, THS has been actively involved in strategic approaches to payer contracting with multiple EB-5 sites to encourage the development of a value-based care offering across sites. The long-term goal is to enter into an alternative payment model aligned with the local payers to create conditions and engagement protocols that materially improve the patient’s likelihood of long-term recovery, generating savings for the system and providing a benefit to participants. 

Since its inception, the EB-5 program has supported the ongoing development of five programs in two states and rural communities (and growing) that will help to materially close the persistent SUD treatment gap in these regions.      


Visit our Impact page to learn more about Third Horizon Strategies’ projects and partnerships. And, check back next month for a  re-cap about the team’s service project at the Chicago Food Depository!

Ashley is the vice president of client services. She oversees client engagements, collaborating closely with senior leadership, project managers, and analysts to coordinate client projects, strengthen client relationships, and exceed client expectations. Ashley also works across the firm to provide professional development opportunities that help team members advance their skills and support the firm achieving its goals.