Recently, I seized an opportunity to talk with Larry Carter, Executive Director of Logan River Academy, about his 30 year history in the healthcare field. Larry is a well-known and respected leader in the residential care industry, and has extensive knowledge and experience in working with adolescents.
“I worked as a hospital administrator for 23 years, including 13 years at Charter, which I found very fascinating,” he explained. “While working in Charter’s psychiatric hospitals, I started a hospital in Utah, but the driving force for me getting into this business occurred when Charter bought Provo Canyon School. After Charter purchased Provo Canyon, I then worked as Regional Director of Charter and Administrator of the new hospital.”
Larry said he has worked in a couple large companies over the years, both locally and in a corporate position as a vice-president, and that his partners have similar backgrounds from all over the country.
For over 20 years, Larry has been enamored with the mental health field because it is so different. “It isn’t a hard science, but it’s not cut and dry; it is very different to deal with the human mind which makes the field is so varied and vast.”
“There were many things about the psychiatric hospital industry that I felt were disappointing,” Larry said. “Even 10 years ago, it was very hard to see results, because you’d only have patients for a very short period of time. So, you didn’t see a lot of positive changes in either adults or adolescents, and more specifically, the adolescents, because all we were doing was putting a Band-Aid on the problem. We just got them through the crisis and sent them out the door. However, during my 13 years at Provo Canyon School, I finally had the chance to really help the adolescents.”
After leaving Provo Canyon for the last time, Larry worked with Aspen Education Group as senior vice-president of their in-patient services. He oversaw all of Aspen’s emotional growth and residential services for just over a year before deciding to start Logan River Academy.
“I have a Masters degree in Health Care Administration from George Washington University,” he said. “I am not a licensed clinician, but I do have some clinical expertise. I don’t work with the kids in a clinical capacity, but I do interview all of them as we are going through the admissions process. I try as best as I can to keep up with what is going on with the kids.”
When he worked at other programs, Larry said they were too large for him to spend one-on-one time with the adolescents. “My role was the business side, which was ok, but it wasn’t what I really wanted to do. I enjoy having more time with the kids, and when the parents call, I am able to discuss their child’s progress.”
Larry is the father of seven. He has three granddaughters, one grandson, and another one is expected in March. He is married to Kathryn who works part-time at the local library.
“We still have two kids at home; the rest are either married or in college,” he said. “One of our children was a struggling teen, but after he attended a program he decided he wanted to be in public service. He chose law enforcement and now works for the Sheriff’s department as a deputy."
Larry said Kathryn is very supportive of this industry and his work. “She has been professionally involved with some of the educational consultants but not routinely involved with the kids.”
During his visit to Woodbury Reports, Larry explained what prompted him and his partners to start Logan River Academy in Logan, UT.
“My direct partners, Jeff Smith, Lori Connin, Mark Peterson, Dr. Robert Crist and I, have been involved in residential care for about 20 years each,” Larry explained. “We are all veterans in this business, and we finally decided that it was time to start our own program. Logan River Academy is the result of the years we spent helping other people and companies start their own programs or schools.”
Logan River Academy built a new building last year that doubled its size. The new building holds the entire academic side with offices and a gymnasium. The program currently has about 90 students, with a 60-40 percentage of boys and girls respectively.
“We are almost exclusively educational consultant driven, with about 88 percent of our business coming from the Lon Woodbury’s of the world,” he said. “Our goal at Logan River was to keep within that niche. We enjoy the work and it is a challenge for us to make sure we are doing the right things for the right reasons.”
With a focus on cognitive behaviors, Larry said Logan River Academy is neither positive peer culture nor emotional growth. “It is a fairly intensive clinically oriented program that becomes individualized to each student. It operates on what we term as a “boundary model,” meaning, we are trying to help these adolescents understand that life is comprised of a system of rules. Whether it is an adult or a child, everyone is expected to participate in this system of rules that govern everything from work, to family, legal, social, school, etc. In order to be successful, we have to be willing to adjust to those rules, even if we don’t like the boundaries. Our goal is to model appropriate behavior and help our young people understand their part in making their life a success.”