After 50 years with Rosecrance, including the last 38 as its CEO, Phil Eaton, MS, is winding down his time at the helm of the organization. Eaton will retire at the end of 2020, handing over the reins to current president/chief operating officer David Gomel, PhD, as part of a transition plan that was announced earlier this year.
Eaton tells BHE that at the age of 72 and with a half-century in the books at Rosecrance, the timing was right for him to step away and enjoy more time with family. He’ll be leaving a very different organization from the one he joined as a social worker in 1971, when Rosecrance was child welfare agency.
As Eaton took over as CEO in 1982, the company sharpened its focus to specifically treat substance use disorders among children.
“We were seeing this as such a prevalent factor among the kids who had been referred to Rosecrance by state agencies, courts, families and school districts that we changed our whole method of operation to focus exclusively on substance abuse treatment,” Eaton says.
Rosecrance expanded into adult care in 1992, and Eaton says, “From there, it was a fast ride and exciting time of changing, adding programs, embracing evidence-based practices and being part of an industry that was focused on wellness and the miracle of recovery.”
The coronavirus pandemic has not hindered Rosecrance’s executive transition plan that was announced in late January, but it has altered the company’s priorities in Eaton’s farewell year, he says. Understanding that the pandemic is a long-term challenge, Rosecrance has put a pause on growth and expansion, instead focusing on shoring up existing services to continue providing care for clients while keeping staff and clients alike safe.
“That’s our priority right now,” Eaton says. “We know the issues of substance use and mental health disorders continue on during the pandemic, so we’ve tried to pivot to figure out how we can continue to serve our patients.”
In January 2021, Gomel assume the role of CEO. He joined Rosecrance in 1993 as a counselor focusing on treating adults with substance use disorders. He has held multiple supervisory roles at facilities within the organization and most recently served as a regional president before being promoted to president as part of the transition plan unveiled at the beginning of 2020.