The Dr. Roberto L. Jimenez MD Restoration Center truly restores lives

September 13, 2012

The Center for Health Care Service’s Restoration Center, a detoxification and substance abuse treatment facility, is a nondescript set of two buildings sitting slightly back from North Frio Street in front of the Haven for Hope campus. What happens inside those two buildings, however, is nothing short of extraordinary.

“When I went in there I was really broken, but really humble,” said Raymond C., a 50-year-old Army veteran and former client of the Restoration Center who volleyed between a successful career in social work and homelessness due to a crack cocaine addiction. “That place is amazing, it’s really putting peoples’ lives back together.”

The Restoration Center was officially dedicated on Friday to Dr. Roberto L. Jimenez, a psychiatrist and mental health care advocate who was instrumental in the design and development of the Center and its continuum of care for those members of this community who need it most.

From March 2008 to March 2011, the Restoration Center — through its public sobering unit, residential and ambulatory detox programs, and long-term outpatient care — has saved the city and county more than $25.7 million in emergency room, court and jail costs. As chairman of the Center for Health Care Services Board of Trustees, Dr. Jimenez made shaped the way this community provides mental and behavioral health care to consumers in Bexar County. His leadership has made this community the first to integrate a delivery care system by partnering a community health center and a public teaching hospital. That result has been benchmark-setting behavioral health care for the rest of the country.

“Dr. Jimenez is a tireless and passionate healer and visionary whose heart is with our youth, our community and our future,” said Leon Evans, President and CEO of the Center for Health Care Services.

Dr. Jimenez comes from humble beginnings on the West Side of San Antonio, growing up one of 13 siblings in a predominantly Spanish-speaking environment. It was at Jefferson High School where he mastered English and learned to function in an entirely different culture. That led him to San Antonio College, St. Mary’s University and then the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston to receive his medical degree.

He went on to serve in the U.S. Navy as a medical officer and battalion surgeon with the Marines in the jungles of Vietnam and became a decorated combat veteran. That experience also guided him to pursue a career in psychiatry. He completed psychiatric training at Boston University Medical Center, and has served on the faculties of Boston College Graduate School of Social Work, Northwestern University College of Criminal Justice and Law, and Harvard Medical School.

After returning to San Antonio, Dr. Jimenez continued to educate and advocate for the best quality health care as the medical director of the Bexar County Mental Health and Retardation Center, and as a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Even though he entered private practice, Dr. Jimenez continued public service as a member of the Bexar County Hospital District Board of Managers with an appointment by Commissioner Paul Elizondo in 1992. Since then he has repeatedly been elected chairman of the board, serving a total of 12 years in that capacity.

“Dr. Jimenez is an extraordinary force in the medical community and has made remarkable strides in health care delivery for this community,” Commissioner Elizondo said. “Under his leadership, the University Health System has become one of the top 100 hospitals in the country and without a doubt our most valuable public health asset in Bexar County.”

Dr. Jimenez’ compassionate spirit is credited in developing jail diversion initiatives that keep people with developmental disabilities, substance abuse and mental illness out of the jail and in an appropriate treatment setting. While these efforts have saved millions of dollars for hospitals and local government, the most important result is the lives that have been saved and restored.

Raymond C. was one of the first detox patients when the facility opened in 2008, he moved to Temple to work in 2009 but relapsed in late 2011 and came back to San Antonio. After checking himself into the Veteran Administration’s detox program he was referred to the Restoration Center for more care. He has been clean and sober for 8 months and is now a workforce development specialist at the Texas Workforce Commission. He is a sponsor to other men going through treatment at the Center.

And on Saturday Raymond will be a guest speaker at the Texas Recovery Rally on the steps of the State Capitol.

“I dedicate my life to that place,” he said.