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Behavioral Healthcare Champion: Keith Hochadel

July 27, 2017

Upon first inheriting the leadership role, Keith Hochadel, now president and CEO of CommQuest Services, was given an 89-point succession plan by his predecessor.

“And the first three things that happened weren’t on that plan,” he says. “They were in the small print, I’m told.”

Undeterred, Hochadel was able to adapt. He guided Quest Recovery and Prevention Services in Canton, Ohio, through unprecedented growth and its eventual merger with Community Services of Stark County in 2015, which ultimately formed CommQuest Services.

An ability to steer into the curve and overcome obstacles has defined much of Hochadel’s professional life. Early in his career, Hochadel followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a pharmacist. By 1996, though, he lost his pharmacy license after suffering a back injury and developing an addiction to Vicodin. Related legal issues at the time also led to a 113-day stint in a community corrections center. Hochadel now acknowledges that the setback and his recovery ultimately redirected him into his career path in behavioral health.

He worked his way up at various organizations, including a role restructuring operations for Quest Recovery.

“[Our interim director James Billow, MD] realized the agency was not doing very well,” Hochadel says. “He gave me a piece of paper that said ‘$750,000’ and told me, ‘This is how much money we need to turn the organization around.’ We found $900,000 in reduced expenses and program development basically by being able to enhance our group models and hiring the right people who were willing to work.”

Quest Recovery’s operations were slimmed down to 70 employees and a budget of $4.5 million. Over the next seven years, during which Hochadel succeeded Billow as CEO, Quest Recovery grew to 260 employees and a $13.5 million budget. Along the way, Hochadel oversaw the creation of a program in May 2015 that provides same-day access to those who are seeking recovery, which received 1,100 referrals covering 23 counties in its first year.

 “When people need access to care, we should be able to say, ‘Would you like to come in today?’” Hochadel says. “The American Automobile Association can come change my tire in an hour. People’s mental health and drug/alcohol needs are far more important, yet we make people wait a week or two weeks.”

In August 2015, he led the Quest Recovery/Community Services deal, which resulted in a budget of $22.5 million, with a staff of 465 employees.

“When we merged organizations, the commitment we made to keep the momentum the organizations had was really important,” Hochadel says. “If you have people doing the everyday work that you can count on and you can trust them and believe they’re going to do the job, then the people carrying the vision of the organization are free to go and create additional programs and services.”

Legislative advocacy

In addition to his work with CommQuest, Hochadel was elected president of the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health and Family Service Providers in 2016. The council is comprised of 150 not-for-profit substance use, mental health and family service organizations. In his role as council president, Hochadel is a legislative advocate.

This includes playing a part in Ohio’s behavioral health redesign, which will bring the state’s behavioral health codes and practices up to National Correct Coding Initiative Standards, ultimately paving the way for providers to have a wider array of services eligible for reimbursement.

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