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OnTrack will face future with new leader

OnTrack Rogue Valley is transitioning to a new leader as it continues to provide addiction treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic and works to expand services in Southern Oregon.

When Dr. Alan Ledford took the reins as executive director three years ago, the organization was in disarray.

Founded in 1969, OnTrack was faulted by state regulators for substandard, unsanitary conditions at its residential treatment facilities and had launched a multimillion-dollar effort to remodel its buildings. It faced lawsuits alleging mistreatment of clients and staff members.

OnTrack settled the lawsuits, and in 2019 it celebrated the improvements at its buildings, better staff training and more oversight from its board of directors with a public open house.

Ledford said he started the job with the intent of staying with OnTrack for two to five years.

“There’s nothing outstanding that I feel I need to stay to resolve. All of the issues that were identified before I came have been resolved,” said Ledford, crediting the hard work of the board, leaders and staff members for turning OnTrack around.

He plans to retire from the organization at the end of the year, allowing for a six-month transition period after which OnTrack Deputy Director Sommer Wolcott will become the new executive director.

“She’s smart. She’s motivated. She understands behavioral health,” Ledford said. “She has ties to the behavioral health community all around the state of Oregon. She brings a wealth of knowledge and information with her.”

Wolcott was previously the residential director and program manager at Kairos, which provides youth mental health services. Ledford also worked for Kairos in the past.

Wolcott started working for OnTrack in October 2018.

Ledford said OnTrack hired her in hopes she would eventually become the executive director of the organization.

Wolcott said she’s honored to be taking on the leadership role and is grateful to be working with a strong team of dedicated professionals.

“The future of OnTrack is continuing to serve the people who need help in the Rogue Valley and the state of Oregon and building on all the work that’s been done in the last few years,” she said.

During Ledford’s tenure, OnTrack expanded into Josephine County. It plans to open a larger residential treatment facility this summer in Hugo, located north of Grants Pass.

OnTrack is also working to establish outpatient treatment in the Cave Junction area south of Grants Pass, Ledford said.

“We looked at what are the needs of the community out there and how do we meet those needs?” he said.

Ledford said he wants OnTrack to become even more innovative in providing treatment for moms and dads who are struggling with addiction. In Medford, dads receiving treatment and their kids live at one property, while moms in treatment and their kids live at another.

Ledford would like to see child care, family treatment and couples counseling offered at the same facility, although he expects men and women in the Medford programs would continue to live apart while in treatment.

“Having worked in this field for a long time, I know that lots of the problems that happen are intergenerational poverty, intergenerational trauma, intergenerational addiction — and you have to break that pattern. The best way to do it is treat the family as a whole. That’s something we’re looking at in the future,” Ledford said.

For now, OnTrack staff members and clients are weathering the COVID-19 pandemic together. The organization has kept offering in-person treatment, although it’s added hand sanitizer, masks, physical distancing, symptom monitoring and other safeguards. It’s offering video meeting options for those who don’t want to be around other people.

Ledford said OnTrack has been working with Jackson County Public Health to develop a plan in case someone tests positive for COVID-19 at one of the residential treatment facilities. He said the organization has stepped up its safety precautions, which will be a positive step to guard against other infectious illnesses, such as the flu.

“That’s a permanent change we need to keep in place,” he said.

Jim Maize, president of OnTrack’s board of directors, said Ledford came to the organization with the belief that the culture of an organization is reflected in the quality of services it provides.

“Making the necessary improvements to the culture of OnTrack has been one of Alan’s greatest contributions — one that will carry well beyond his tenure,” Maize said.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.

Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune OnTrack Deputy Director Sommer Wolcott will become the new executive director.
Mail Tribune file photo