Meridian Behavioral Health

Meridian Behavioral Health is the largest for-profit behavioral healthcare company in Minnesota. Meridian offers a range of substance abuse and addiction treatment services (including medicated assisted treatment), with specialized programs for men, women and LGBT. Currently, Meridian has 7 residential and 13 outpatient programs located throughout the Twin Cities, Pine City and Brainerd.  All of Meridian’s residential programs — and many of it’s outpatient programs — are MI/CD licensed to treat clients assessed as chemically dependent with co-occurring mental health issues (dual-diagnosis).
Meridian Behavioral Health is led by a seasoned management team with deep behavioral healthcare experience and a proven track record for growing and expanding businesses. The management team, with both entrepreneurial and Fortune 500 experience in behavioral health, has aggressive growth plans to extend and continue to build the Meridian brand.


We create and provide effective treatment programs that meet the chemical and behavioral health needs of our clients, communities and referents.


We are a client-centered organization recognized for embracing diversity, with unique treatment and work environments characterized by hope, quality, integrity, respect, teamwork and accountability.


By living our mission and values, Meridian Behavioral Health will be the first-choice of referents and behavioral health professionals, continuously raising the standard for client-centered care, customer service and team member engagement.

Executive Team

Fran Sauvageau — President/CEO
franFran Sauvageau, President and CEO, Meridian Behavioral Health, is a seasoned executive and nationally recognized industry leading executive in the behavioral healthcare industry.  He is a tireless advocate for driving exceptional client care. He has held many key executive positions throughout his thirty-plus year career where he has initiated significant business development projects, managed large psychiatric treatment and medical surgical facilities and helped to develop several new companies in the health services. Fran is experienced in growing organizations with the business and financial assistance of individual investors and private equity groups and in successfully selling those organizations for substantial profit.  With Lighthouse Care Centers, LLC he and his partners engaged private investors and built a five facility behavioral healthcare company out of the ground, complete with building renovations and all start up logistics in five locations.  He successfully managed and grew these facilities and, under an agreed exit strategy, sold the organization for nine times the initial investment in seven years. During this period, Fran, his partners and their management team managed three other large behavioral facilities in Georgia, Delaware, and Florida and successfully sold them for more than $50M.


James Smith — Chief Operating Officer

JamesJames Smith, Chief Operating Officer joined Meridian Behavioral Health in February of 2014, bringing an extensive career pedigree in operations, human resources, and business development.  He was formerly the head of Allina Health’s inpatient and residential mental health and chemical dependency services for many of its hospitals, as well as holding system-wide operational responsibility for emergency room crisis assessments, Tele-Health, and the entire clinic service line.  Over the past eight years at Allina Health, he provided operational leadership of nearly 300 inpatient beds across 11 hospitals, 33 integrated primary care clinics, three hospital-based clinics, and emergency room department assessment and referral staff. Smith created the system’s Patient Advisory Council to empower patients, as well as leading formal and informal structures for cross-functional collaboration and initiatives around patient care, population health, patient affordability, and organizational vitality. Jim launched the first ever Tele-Health initiative to increase patient access to regional and affiliate partners and received the 2011 Innovation Award from HealthPartners for Tele-Health initiatives.  Prior to Allina, Smith served in a variety of senior roles at Right Management, Target Corporation, Jostens, and Carlson Companies.  He was a graduate of Cardinal Stritch University and has an MA in Organizational Design & Change Leadership from the University of St. Thomas.


Paula Nelson — Chief Financial Officer

paulaPaula joined Meridian Behavioral Health as Chief Financial Officer in late 2012, bringing over 28 years of healthcare experience in academic, non-profit and for-profit organizations, and 22 years in senior leadership positions.  Her broad healthcare experience includes CFO of a non-profit community hospital with 4 primary care clinics and a foundation, CFO of a for-profit outpatient behavioral health organization, Finance Director for the University of Minnesota Medical School, and interim CFO of a Community Health Center.  Paula brings a strong track record for building effective teams, and has led the restructuring of the finance and revenue cycle processes at Meridian to drive improved tracking and reporting, as well as AEBITDA growth and cash collections. She has an accounting degree from Minnesota State University, Moorhead and an Executive MBA from the University of St. Thomas – Opus College of Business, Minneapolis. In addition, Paula has served as President of the Healthcare Financial Management Association – Minnesota Chapter (HFMA), was a member of the Finance Committee with the Minnesota Hospital Association, and was as an Adjunct Professor at the University of St. Francis.

For new business opportunities or inquiries, please contact John Seymour, Vice President, Marketing and Business Development, 612-916-0352.

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Meridian Programs