Our History

Welcome to SalusCare, Inc.

On July 1, 2013, Lee Mental Health and Southwest Florida Addiction Services merged into one newly-named not-for-profit healthcare provider – SalusCare, Inc. – thus bringing the history of these two established community healthcare providers full circle.

SalusCare was selected as the name, drawing on the Latin roots of “Salus,” meaning health, prosperity and safety, which reflects the focus of the new organization.

Today, SalusCare employs nearly 450 people who bring hope and recovery to more than 18,000 people each year in Southwest Florida.  In today’s world of limited healthcare resources and increasing expectations from payers and patients, , merging these  long-standing mental health and substance abuse treatment organizations will ultimately improve care for children and adults by utilizing one seamless system of care and expanded access from multiple locations in Southwest Florida.

We encourage you to explore this website to learn more about the myriad of services SalusCare offers the community.   Or, call us at (239) 275-3222 or any of the numbers listed within the site with questions.


Southwest Florida Addiction Services (SWFAS) History

SWFAS traces its roots to 1972 when alcohol treatment programming was part of Lee Mental Health Center.  The alcohol treatment program nearly closed in 1979 when the organization believed the state was underfunding the detoxification portion of the program.  In response, a volunteer citizens group chartered themselves as a separate 501(c)(3) and Southwest Florida Alcoholism Services, Inc. (SWFAS) incorporated in 1979 and began active management in 1980.  The name was changed to Southwest Florida Addiction Services in 1985 to encompass the dual addictions of drugs and alcohol.

Services for adults continued to expand through the mid 1980′s to include residential and day treatment services for adults.  In 1990, the newly formed “Coalition for a Drug Free Lee County” identified the number one need in Lee County as accessible residential treatment for adolescent substance abusers and their families. SWFAS’ Board of Directors responded to this need, and in 1991constructed and opened the Vince Smith Center, a 20-bed residential treatment center for adolescents. This program is the only one of its type in Southwest Florida.  In October 1994, SWFAS was deeded a facility in Cape Coral by a former drug treatment program, thus making services more accessible in the Cape Coral area.

Prevention services evolved over time, to become a major portion of the SWFAS mission and focus, with services offered in many local schools.  Community Development Block Grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allowed the Transitional Living Center (TLC) to grow dramatically during the past decade.  Housing also is offered for more individuals and up to two families in a variety of duplexes on the TLC campus in central Fort Myers.  A successful capital campaign in 2009 resulted in construction of the current Detoxification & Outpatient Treatment Center on Evans Avenue.

In April, 2013, SWFAS received its fifth consecutive three-year accreditation from CARF, the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.  The following programs, for both children and adults, received accreditation:  residential treatment, day treatment, outpatient treatment, prevention services, and the Employee Assistance Program.  The Detoxification Center, Intensive Outpatient Program, and Halfway House also were accredited for adults.  In addition, four Adult Drug Court treatment programs and one Juvenile Drug Court treatment program were accredited.

For nearly 35 years, SWFAS has been the most comprehensive substance abuse treatment and prevention program in Southwest Florida, providing services from five locations in Lee County, and two locations in Hendry and Glades counties, to more than 6,000 people each year.


Lee Mental Health (LMH) History

The services and campuses of Lee Mental Health, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit community mental health center, have been evolving since 1969 when the original organization, Lee Mental Health Guidance Clinic, received its charter. The clinic was the vision of a group of concerned Lee County citizens and the Lee Mental Health Association headed by Max Rieves, Vice President of Edison College.

In 1970, the clinic opened in a vacant storefront at 1812 Jackson Street in Fort Myers with a staff of three:  Dr. Norman Berk, a part-time psychologist who served as acting director, a secretary and a part-time social worker. As the clinic grew, Dr. Berk recruited Dr. Ruth Cooper, whose goal was to build a mental health system that would serve Lee County. When Dr. Berk retired, the Clinic Board asked Dr. Cooper to take over as Executive Director of the organization.  A generous donor loaned the center two facilities on what is now the Bell Tower property, imposing the restriction that the land be fenced so that children from the clinic wouldn’t scare the cows grazing nearby.

To meet the ever-growing mental health needs of Lee County’s children and families, Dr. Cooper and the clinic staff planned an expanded, centralized facility on Ortiz Avenue in Ft. Myers.  In a stroke of creative financing, the clinic found it eligible for and obtained a low-cost loan from the federal government, thereby becoming the first mental health center in the country to be funded by the U.S. Farmers Home Administration, or FHA.

Most of Lee Mental Health’s Ortiz campus opened in 1980, with additional buildings added in the late 1980’s.  After completing a Capital Campaign, Lee Mental Health opened the Vista campus off Colonial Blvd. in Ft. Myers in 2006.   In addition, Lee Mental Health operates two apartment complexes in the City of Ft. Myers, as well as a duplex in Cape Coral.

Lee Mental Health was accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) for eight years, beginning in 1998.  In August 2006, the agency discontinued participation in JCAHO and sought accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) believing this accreditation fit better with the needs of a community mental health center.  Lee Mental Health has earned three-year accreditations with CARF since 2006.  In May, 2012, Lee Mental Health received its third consecutive three-year accreditation from CARF for the following programs:  Case Management for adults and children, Crisis Intervention/Stabilization for adults and children, Outpatient Treatment for adults and children, Residential Treatment for adults and Employment Services for adults.

For nearly 44 years, Lee Mental Health has provided outpatient therapy and psychiatry, community-based programs, inpatient residential treatment for substance use, emergency services and crisis stabilization unit for both adults and children.  In 2012, Lee Mental Health served more than 12,000 adults and children in Southwest Florida.