Cornerstone of Recovery plans expansion, consolidation

Cornerstone of Recovery CEO Dan Caldwell talks about the expansion planned for the facility.

Cornerstone of Recovery CEO Dan Caldwell talks about the expansion planned for the facility.

Cornerstone of Recovery takes a holistic approach in treating patients for chemical dependency, so it’s a natural progression for the treatment center to take that same approach with its campus by moving all facilities to one location.

Currently, Cornerstone operates at three different sites in Blount County, but that is about to change.

Steve McGrew, Cornerstone’s chief financial officer, said the overall goal is to consolidate its 24-hour care services onto one campus so that all aspects of treatment will be provided at the same location.

Two of the sites, both on Topside Road, serve adults and young adults in residential treatment programs and provide medical detoxification and assessment for incoming patients.

The facility’s complex on Alcoa Highway houses intensive outpatient and aftercare programs as well as administrative offices. It sits atop a wooded hill surrounded by 16 acres that includes 1,500 linear feet along the picturesque Fort Loudon Lake at the back of the property.

“We’ll phase this in over the next several years,” McGrew said of the expansion plans, “but the first thing we want to do is get a fitness center in place. It’s something that’s needed.”

Cornerstone already has a fitness program, but the planned 12,000 square foot building will offer many enhanced features. It will have an all-purpose gym floor for basketball, volleyball, dodge ball and other activities. The center will have an area for cardio vascular equipment such as treadmills and ellipticals. The fitness center will also be available for Cornerstone’s 200 employees.

Achieving physical health is an important piece of the recovery process, and this new facility will allow Cornerstone to provide better services, McGrew said. Sleeping can be an issue for recovery patients, and a fitness program helps with that and also combats depression.

“It improves so many aspects of their lives.”

In addition to the fitness center, the expansive property will provide plenty of room for a nature trail that will travel along the shoreline. Cornerstone President and CEO Dan Caldwell said a nature trail will provide balance and comfort to recovery patients. “They are dealing with difficult issues on a daily basis as they work through the recovery process. A nature trial offers them a chance to explore a spiritual relationship with something greater than themselves,” he added.

McGrew said they are in the process of getting construction approval for the center from the city of Alcoa and hope to have it built by the end of the year. That will complete Phase I of the multi-million dollar project.

Another aspect of the overall plan will be to house 200 beds on the campus. McGrew said they are still considering both dorm style housing and small apartments. One campus will be more economical to operate rather than three separate locations, but the real benefit is for the patients.

Caldwell said one campus will allow people recovering from chemical addictions to bond with others who have been down that road. A community-based program allows patients to interact with others for a common purpose in a structured, safe environment, he said. The one-campus setting brings people together to tell their stories and encourage others in a way that can’t be as fully engaged with three different sites.

“This whole campus is designed to facilitate that,” Caldwell said.

The last phrase of the expansion project will be a renovation of the main building already located on the Alcoa Highway campus.

Recently, Cornerstone hosted its annual barbeque picnic for alumni to return and celebrate their life-changing achievements and have an opportunity to fellowship with others in the recovery process. Several alumni participated in a lively volleyball game on the current graved-based court. McGrew noted that site will be replaced with sandy bottom court.

The plans for the consolidated campus fit into the original vision of Cornerstone founder and recovering alcoholic Bill Hood, who died in 1993. Hood, a successful businessman, opened the doors to Cornerstone in 1989 so that others could find the freedom and peace of recovery from addiction that had given him his life back.

“This is the most expensive problem in America, and the third leading cause of death,” Caldwell said.

For more information about Cornerstone of Recovery, visit their website at

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