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We’re Here for You: How Spectrum Health Systems Is Continuing Treatment Amid COVID-19

When the novel coronavirus hit the nation, our everyday lives were turned upside down – and for good reason. All of us hold a responsibility to flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19 by staying home and only leaving the house for essential reasons.

A service that remains essential is treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. While under a State of Emergency and with Governor Charlie Baker’s stay-at-home advisory, Spectrum Health Systems and the New England Recovery Center have remained open, operating and accepting new clients for treatment – with some necessary changes.

For inpatient treatment, we’re screening all new clients for symptoms of COVID-19 upon admission. We’ve taken that process outside our normal facilities, into a temporary trailer in order to prevent the virus from spreading to other clients and staff.

It’s incredibly important that current and prospective clients monitor for any symptoms of the virus and contact their primary care physician if they are experiencing symptoms. Speaking to NPR, our VP of Clinical Services, Lisa Blanchard said: "If somebody were to become symptomatic or were to spread within a unit [at Spectrum], it would have a significant impact."

We’ve also followed the guidance provided by multiple agencies, including the MA Department of Public Health, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse for issuing take-home medication to qualifying outpatient clients.

Blanchard shared with Fox News that 50% of our clients taking some form of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) have been approved to receive certain amounts of take-home medication to continue their treatment while quarantined at home. We’re encouraging social distancing within our facilities for clients who still need to visit us every day and limiting the number of people allowed inside at one time.

At Spectrum, a significant portion of treatment includes face-to-face interactions through group and individual counseling, attending classes, visiting peer recovery centers and more. Since the nation has been advised to stay home, in-person interaction has been extremely limited.

As a result, we’re now offering telehealth options through phone and video meetings with our clinical staff. In an interview with MassLive, our Business Development Liaison, Catherine Collins, shared her story of recovery from alcoholism and how she’s staying sober without attending her regular in-person AA meetings:

“This time has been really challenging because we’re not able to get in front of each other face-to-face,” said Collins, “So it has been a time of not isolating in a dangerous way, but utilizing the isolation to reach out to others.”

Zoom, FaceTime, phone calls, Skype, Google Hangouts and more have been crucial resources for Collins and others in recovery to maintain those healthy connections with their peers.

Despite the setbacks provided by COVID-19, “now is a great time to get treatment,” Collins shared with Addiction Professional.

Now is a great time to begin treatment, and it’s also an important time to stay in treatment, despite the new obstacles presented by COVID-19. We’re happy to say that at Spectrum we’ve been able to help people do just that, and we will continue to do so.

If you or a loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, Spectrum Health Systems is open and available to help. Please at 1-877-MyRehab and speak to our staff before arrival. Start your recovery journey today!

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