Spectrum Health Systems

Inside Spectrum – Spring 2018

Published On: March 1st, 2018Categories: News

In This Issue:

Letter from the President

Michael Earielo is the Heart of the Pleasant Street Peer Recovery Center | The Bright Futures Team Rallies at a Critical Moment | Damaris Diaz Has Multiple Talents | Spectrum Virginia Calls Out Shannon Smith, An Outstanding Role Model

Rhode Island Spectrum is a Program Innovator | Emily Blevins Embodies the Spectrum Way | Heidi DiRoberto Goes the Extra Mile for People in Need of Lifesaving Interventions

Recent Promotions | Staff Newly Certified in Trauma Informed Care | The Year-of-the-Employee by Erica Schulman | SEI Is in Full Swing

Project Turnabout Recognized by the Association for Behavioral Health | Georgia RSATs Receive Full Honors From the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities

Spectrum Celebrates Milestone Anniversaries | Erica Schulman Sits Down With Wendell Price 

Millbury Clinic Celebrates Its Launch


Letter from the President

A belated Happy New Year to all of you; may it be full of hope and promise for you and those you love. As I enter my fifth year with Spectrum, I’m mindful of why I am so excited to lead this remarkable organization. As spring approaches, however slowly, I wanted to take a minute to reflect on why all of us can be proud of working here:

  • Our People and Community;
  • Our Clinical Expertise & Innovation;
  • Our Professional Development and Investment;
  • Our High-Quality Services;
  • Our Commitment & Longevity; and
  • We are a Good Neighbor.

These are words and phrases which we all use when we talk about Spectrum to our neighbors, our friends, our clients, and our purchasers, and, in part, make up what we refer to as the “Spectrum Way.” Watch how they play out in the stories below. Thank you for all that you do for each and every person we serve, every day of the year.


Kurt Isaacson, President & CEO
Spectrum Health Systems


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Michael Earielo is the Heart of the Pleasant Street Peer Recovery Center

Micheal Earielo

Spectrum has a community of amazing people who go above and beyond simply providing treatment, education support, and referrals and linkages. We recruit and attract people who want to give back to others and to their communities on an on-going basis.

Michael Earielo is a perfect example of people who understand and embrace The Spectrum Way. Today, he directs Everyday Miracles in Worcester, one of three Peer Recovery Centers operated by Spectrum and funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Everyday Miracles is a recovery-oriented sanctuary anchored in the heart of downtown Worcester. The center opened in October 2008 and welcomed its relocation to a storefront at 25 Pleasant Street, Worcester in November 2009. The Recovery Center provides peer-to-peer recovery support using its volunteer/member force to deliver services. The Center’s hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 8:30 am to 8:30 pm and Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. Approximately 100 members are served daily.

Michael has created a welcoming environment on Pleasant St. where people in recovery feel safe sharing and receiving support from those who are on the same path. He ensures that the Center’s schedule is member-driven. Current offerings include but are not limited to workshops and training on recovery, process groups, meetings and social events like book groups, arts and crafts, and movie and game nights. Members at Everyday Miracles routinely volunteer in the community as part of their recovery program; they are giving back to the community where once they may have caused trouble.

Michael joined Everyday Miracles as a member and then as a Counselor, finding his way out of a decades long stint as a gang member, drug dealer, person with a substance use disorder, and inmate. Michael credits Spectrum’s peer staff with helping him to learn that he was not his addiction – that he could set goals, go back to school, and move forth on a positive path. He also was and continues to be inspired by Chuck Faris, Spectrum’s former President and CEO. After hearing Chuck speak about his own journey, Michael became convinced that there was a better way to live. Michael believes wholeheartedly in the peer model. “I’m a walking billboard for recovery; this gives the people who come here hope and that is what every person with a substance use disorder wants and needs.”


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The Bright Futures Team Rallies at a Critical Moment

Bright Futures is Spectrum’s long-term residential treatment program for court-involved youth. In operation for several years under Spectrum, Director of Youth Services, Mark Brown is extremely proud of the team he has built in this Methuen, Massachusetts program. This team is challenged every day to meet the needs of young men with often severe behavioral problems – the goal is to give each participant the tools he needs for achieving and maintaining sobriety and stability.

Late last year the team undertook an unusual challenge – even for this program! During lunch, one of the residents began to choke violently on a piece of steak. With the Health and Wellness Teacher from the Collaborative for Educational Services taking the lead in administering the Heimlich maneuver, the rest of the team rallied to provide support until it was clear the resident had fully recovered.

Both Spectrum and the Collaborative were commended for their teamwork with a ceremony at Bright Futures. Peter Forbes, the commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services attended, as did then-mayor of Methuen, Stephen Zanni, who presented the awards, depicted below.

Mark Brown Mark Brown


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Damaris Diaz Has Multiple Talents

We often learn about how wonderful our employees are from the clients themselves. This letter, written to Damaris Diaz, Spectrum’s Credentialing Manager who also teaches Driver Alcohol Education Services at the Lincoln St. outpatient clinic is illustrative. The client writes:

Dear Damaris:

On rare occasions, people have the opportunity to come into contact with someone who has a pure heart and soul. So few of these people exist, but you are definitely one of them. You are an inspiration to all those you come into contact with, and proof humanity still has a chance. Thank you for the work you do to help people who are down on their luck, struggling with their life, or making bad decisions. You are truly appreciated. Thank you.

We are lucky to have Damaris on staff! One of her greatest contributions is her ability to motivate and energize everyone around her. Thank you, Damaris, for sharing your gift with all of us.


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Spectrum Virginia Calls Out Shannon Smith, An Outstanding Role Model

Shannon Smith began her employment with Spectrum Health Systems in Virginia as a Counselor and was soon promoted to Transition Specialist. This is such a critical position, said her supervisor, Brittany Vickers, as people leaving Departments of Correction are most vulnerable in the early days following their release. Shannon genuinely cares about bearing witness to and being part of her clients’ success as they make the transition to the community.

“Her work ethic is incredible,” said Vickers. She is consistently developing new resources in the community for Spectrum’s clients. Ms. Smith is working toward her CSAC and is fast becoming an expert in the Therapeutic Community model. Thank you, Shannon, for your hard work!


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Rhode Island Spectrum is a Program Innovator

Spectrum provides programming that other providers simply don’t offer, says Rhode Island Program Director, Virginia Tiernan. In 2016, Dr. Romas Buivydas, Spectrum’s Vice President of Clinical Development and Spectrum’s former Chief Clinical Officer, Peter Paolantonio, developed two 90-day cognitive-behavioral programs, individual and group-based curricula to assist offenders in Supermax- and Maximum-Security facilities step down to less restrictive settings within Departments of Correction. Rhode Island DOC has been very pleased with the result.

AVATAR is designed for inmates who are doing long-term punitive segregation, who have a history of resistance to traditional treatment programs and have demonstrated an inability to function at this level without intervention. The program targets inmates’ needs for relatedness and respect, teaching them how to meet those needs by doing what is realistic, responsible and right. These simple concepts represent the most basic levels of successful interaction. Improved behavior and social interaction of High Security Center can help inmates who are doing long-term punitive segregation time reintegrate into less restrictive housing.

During the first 30 days, individual sessions focus on the inmate learning about himself and his readiness to make changes. He is introduced to the initial stages of change necessary to respond differently to both external events and internal stimuli (i.e., a process of cognitive restructuring). Different patterns of reaction and thinking will result in a better understanding of consequences (consequential thinking) and more positive behaviors. With clinical gains, each man graduates to small group work, not to exceed four men for the remaining 60 days.

Spectrum’s “Think First” curriculum provides AVATAR graduates as well as other inmate participants with more intensive and advanced programming. The three-month curriculum is designed to help the inmate discover and dispute his irrational thoughts and beliefs. In addition, inmates learn and practice pro-social skills and how to “out-think” violent behaviors. Group sessions of 6-8 men require the inmate to think about the consequences of his actions. Topic areas include respect, responsibility, behavior modification and right-thinking skills.

With two clinicians at the helm, Virginia Tiernan and Luddy Figueroa, the program is very successful and much appreciated by the DOC. For example, the Rhode Island Department of Corrections Planning & Research Unit conducted an evaluation of Spectrum’s Think First Program using the Correctional Program Checklist (CPC) in July 2017. The program was rated as “highly effective.” Research by Edward Latessa, Ph.D. and the University of Cincinnati found that only 7 percent of programs nationally score as highly effective. The evaluators noted: “Think First may be a valuable resource to other facilities at RIDOC, particularly in facilities where assaultive incidences are high.”

The program maintains an extensive waiting list. Right now, the clinicians can offer up to three cycles of each group per year. They are hopeful to increase this to four, pending room availability at the RI DOC.


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Emily Blevins Embodies the Spectrum Way

Similarly, Tennessee’s Spectrum employees are well respected by their Department of Correction. According to Tennessee’s State Director, Ryan McMahon, “our Tennessee Regional Supervisor, Emily Blevins, was recently asked by DOC officials to take part in a presentation for those on probation and parole in the Nashville area.”

Denver-based non-profit UpRise sponsored the event, furthering its mission of providing training/educational stipends, and one-on-one career mentorship to high-risk, underserved populations with an eye toward living wages, upward mobility, and advancement opportunities for participating adults. Ms. Blevins presented on the topics of job search advice for those with a criminal record or poor work history, and then discussed how to address conflict in the workplace with a focus on cross-cultural communication.

Says McMahon, “This presentation was the perfect example of Spectrum’s commitment to the client as he or she returns to the community. It also served as an opportunity to provide direct guidance based on the experience we have gained delivering services to every district across the entire state.”


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Heidi DiRoberto Goes the Extra Mile for People in Need of Lifesaving Interventions

Heidi DiRoberto, LMHC is the Lincoln Street outpatient treatment center’s Program Director in the heart of Worcester. She started her work with Spectrum as a clinical supervisor at Lincoln St, which currently provides medication-assisted treatment to more than 1,500 individuals each day. Heidi had come to Spectrum from another addiction treatment provider in 2014 and, once on board, was charged with establishing an Overdose Prevention Committee (among other things!). Ms. DiRoberto holds a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology in addition to a baccalaureate in Psychology and has expertise in substance use disorders, mental health, grief and loss, and Dialectical Behavioral and Cognitive Behavioral Therapies. She chairs a number of additional Spectrum Committees, including Grief and Loss and Psychiatry Multidisciplinary. She is incredibly committed to Spectrum’s clients and is always looking for new ideas to help them achieve and maintain sobriety.

One of her first and most successful interventions was to partner with local pharmacies to have Narcan, a drug with a powerful ability to reverse opioid overdoses, delivered to Lincoln Street by local pharmacies on behalf of the program’s active participants. This has meant that clients can access Narcan via prescription without the stigma of requesting it at their local pharmacies. Once Spectrum receives the medication, it is kept under lock and key until it is dispensed to the client by a professional team member. DiRoberto is trained to teach Narcan administration and has well-established policies and procedures to safeguard staff, participants and other clients as well.

DiRoberto estimates that since the program was instituted three years ago, close to 400 prescriptions have been filled and countless lives saved. This innovative program, in addition, has been replicated at all of Spectrum’s other outpatient sites. Narcan is covered by most private and public insurance carriers, but copays are often expensive. She and her staff have been looking at ways to help the clients at Lincoln Street manage these costs. They are hopeful to find support from a community foundation.


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Recent Promotions

Because good outcomes for clients are dependent upon clinical expertise, innovation and enduring relationships, Spectrum consistently makes investments in its workforce. Operations leadership looks to promote from within, wherever possible. This strategy is illustrative of our pride in our people and our wish to celebrate their accomplishments. Recent promotions include:

Lisa Blanchard to Vice President of Clinical Operations
Tracy Desruisseaux to Director of Outpatient Services
Heidi DiRoberto to Program Director at Lincoln Street
Colleen Ferrera Program Director in Leominster
Sarah Moore to Clinical Supervisor in Leominster
Kathryn Branca to Clinical Supervisor at ATS Westborough

Massachusetts Youth Programs
Greg Chaille Program Director at Bright Futures
Angel Heredia Assistant Program Director at Bright Futures
Jennifer Paschal to Clinical Supervisor at the Young Adult Program in Westborough
Emily Hescock to Program Director at Westborough ATS
Donna Roose to Program Director at Weymouth ATS/CSS
Steven Cahill to Program Manager at Project Turnabout in Weymouth

Jamie LeCount, LPC to Program Director at Coast RSAT
Rowan Altice, CADC-II, to Clinical Supervisor at Coastal RSAT
Mikita Milner, CADC-II, to Clinical Supervisor at Valdosta RSAT

We’re equally proud of our newly certified staff who invest in themselves:

Sarah Padgett, LPC at Coastal RSAT
Lisa Monath, CADC-II Counselor at Northwest RSAT
April Lewis, CADC-II Counselor at Turner RSAT
Krystal Smith, CADC-II Counselor at Turner RSAT
LaTrenda Hill, CCS, Clinical Supervisor at Turner RSAT
Edward Armstrong, CADC-II, counselor at Bainbridge RSAT
Canzada Twyman, CCS, Clinical Supervisor at Paulding RSAT


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Staff Newly Certified in Trauma Informed Care

Spectrum offers Trauma Informed Care Certification at no cost to the employee. In 2017, the following individuals undertook three program modules to become certified and earn Continuing Education Credits. The three modules are Healing Trauma with Mindfulness Practices, Teaching Grounding to Clients, and Trauma Informed Supervision. Congratulations, all!

Alfida Siceron-Reyna
Alyssa Taddeo
Ani Rengifo-Looney
Bernice Richard
Betty Tran
Christina Brown
Hillary Dumas
Jennifer Zachary
Jill Carton
Joseph Tobin
Julie Gilardi
Lauren Boudreau
Leah Donohoe
Leslie Reed
Lindsey Cronk
Margaret McLaughlin
Maria Contes-Vasquez
Rachel Carroll
Robert Grenier
Stacy Desnoyers
Terri Kennan


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The Year-of-the-Employee by Erica Schulman

The employees at Spectrum make a significant difference in the lives of our clients and for Spectrum on a daily basis. In an effort to recognize these contributions, Spectrum has designated 2018 as the “Year-of-the-Employee” (YOE). We have established a committee to develop and implement ways to recognize those contributions that will be meaningful to employees both personally and professionally throughout their career with Spectrum.

The Committee has been focusing on the overall improvement of the employee experience at Spectrum. We have also been examining various aspects of the company, from recruitment to onboarding and training, to staff recognition. The primary goals are to increase employee engagement and improve retention. The team is doing this through a wide variety of methods. Some of these efforts have involved building on existing practices that work well, while other efforts will be brand new.

To date, the committee has rolled out the following:

  • Dayforce System – which provides numerous benefits to staff such as electronic timekeeping, the ability to change personal information in real-time, and electronic benefits enrollment.
  • “Tips” Sheets to Managers which focus on best-practices in areas of Onboarding, Recruitment and Recognition.
  • Increase of Employee Referral Bonuses to $150 for Part-Time Referrals/$300 for Full-Time Referrals
  • Employee Perks & Discount Programs (Tickets at Work, BJ’s Wholesale, Verizon Wireless, etc.)
  • “Employee-of-the-Quarter” Company-Wide Recognition Program for direct care-level staff

And there’s more to come! The Committee looks forward to sharing the other exciting programs – that will kick off in the new fiscal year – very soon!

The YOE Committee members are: Erica Schulman, Stacy Flanagan, Tracy Desruisseaux, Peter Collins, Kaitlin Wright, Samantha McCann, and Sarah Larsen.


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SEI Is in Full Swing

Just a quick reminder to visit the SEI trainings calendar and sign up for one of the many offerings this year. All training occurs at Clark University, 333 Turnpike Road, Southborough, Massachusetts. Each training takes place from 9:30 am -12:30 pm.

February 22, 2018 – Co-Occurring Disorders
March 22, 2018 – Culturally Responsive Addiction Treatment with the LGBTQ Community
April 26, 2018 – Antisocial Personality and other Personality Disorders
May 24, 2018 – Gang Unit Training September 27, 2018 – Utilizing DBT Skills in Safety Planning
October 25, 2018 – Current Trends in Medication Assisted Treatment
November 8, 2018 – Stress Management

Due to vacation schedules, SEI does not offer training in June, July, August or December!


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Project Turnabout Recognized by the Association for Behavioral Health

On Friday, October 20th, the Spectrum Health Systems team travelled to Boston for an exciting event – the annual Association for Behavioral Health (ABH) Salute to Excellence ceremony. This year, one of Spectrum’s residential treatment programs, Project Turnabout, won the “Excellence in Best Practices” award. As a long-time provider of addiction treatment dedicated to providing the highest quality of care, it was an honor for our staff to be recognized for their outstanding accomplishments by the leading behavioral healthcare advocacy organization in Massachusetts. Project Turnabout is a long-term residential program for young men who are overcoming not only substance use disorder, but also contending with previous bouts of homelessness, incarceration or gang affiliations.


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Georgia RSATs Receive Full Honors From the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities

Georgia’s prison-based Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) programs are still celebrating the results of their CARF survey which took place in September of 2017, having achieved the best survey results in the past twenty years (seven distinct surveys). As we all know, The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) is an international group which accredits more than 50,000 programs and services at 25,000 locations. More than 10 million persons of all ages are served annually across-the-globe. Surveyors gave Spectrum many high marks. Among them were:

  • Organization and preparation for the survey;
  • Standardization across programs;
  • Ongoing training of staff and the amount of training provided;
  • Curriculum, phase structure, manuals and materials used for clinical service delivery;
  • How well the Therapeutic Community programs are run;
  • Use of data, data collection, and comprehensive reporting; and
  • Management/leadership style.

Sabrina Hudnall was thrilled with the results, saying in a recent interview that “it is such an honor for our RSAT programs to be acknowledged for providing a high level of quality treatment and effective leadership. This prestigious recognition would not be possible without the hard work, dedication, and compassion of all the staff members who believe in the mission of our organization. We are truly humbled by this accolade and we thank the Georgia Department of Corrections for more than twenty years of continued partnership.”


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The Human Services field is one which has always experienced high turnover. It is notoriously hard to measure due to the many different types of human service organizations which have different goals for their programs and different population needs. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration observed that in 2012, “the turnover rates in the addiction services workforce ranged from 18.5% to more than 50%.” While we know that turnover is very expensive for organizations, costing between one and two times the departing employee’s salary, it also has a negative impact on morale and it compromises institutional memory. We also know that turnover in addiction services can mean less favorable outcomes for clients. The therapeutic alliance between counselor and client prevents attrition and increases the level of participation by the client. Here are some of the anniversaries we’d like to celebrate. Everyone here knows that working at Spectrum is the toughest job they’ll ever love.

Spectrum Celebrates Milestone Anniversaries

As of the end of December, the following individuals celebrated milestone anniversaries and were presented with Spectrum pins:

40 years
Peter Paolantonio

20 years
Tracey Batten
Mark Brown
Dan Weldon

15 years
Cindy Buraczynski
Juanita Burgos
Stacy Flanagan
Kristy Lavine

10 years
Nadine Adams
Angela Assad
Deborah Bayrouty-Mejaour
Brooke Earl
Linda Eurenius
Megan Gajewski
Laura Montoya
Gloria Moreland
Mark Moriarty
Claudia Samalis
Jenifer Shade
Helene Westmoreland
Lusine Zakarian

5 years
Lisa Anderson-Akine
Terry Bailey
Paula Baker
Jennifer Barnaby
Jessica Basile
Kimberly Canane
Greg Chaille
Jessica Colson
Amanda Cronin
Barbara DaSilva
Erin Doherty
Yulonda Driver
Julie Gilardi
Thomas Gould
Wendy Hodges
Norma Hollenbach
Sabrina Hudnall
Richard Kataza
Debra Kemp
Demarr Langford
Dennis Maloney
Joana Mantey
Sharon McGill
Ryan McMahon
Shamara Moody
Christopher Petrozzi
Rebecca Polastri
Nicole Rendon
Randy Rodriguez
Itsa Rosado
Erica Schulman
Betty Tran
Katherine Waterhouse
Ryan Wells
Evelyn Wilson
Peter Zoppo


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Erica Schulman Sits Down With Wendell Price

Wendell Price

We are lucky at Spectrum to have many staff members who have truly made a career of their work here. They are in various roles across many divisions and programs. I had the pleasure of sitting down with one of our longest-tenured staff members, Wendell Price, whose passion for helping others and respect for his coworkers was quickly apparent.

ES: You started with Spectrum almost 24 years ago. Can you give me a brief walk-through of the positions you’ve held in that time?

WP: Wow, sure. I started in detox as a unit coordinator (now called a “Recovery Specialist”). Then I became a shift manager, a customer care coordinator, a residential instructor, and then I moved to admissions. I worked as an admissions rep and also handled the on-call services for after-hours admissions. I was in a role doing a DPH study for 3 years where I would track where our customers went after treatment and continue to follow up with them. I then became a facility coordinator and was responsible for the maintenance here at the campus and I was a case manager for a while, before my current role as a driver for the Clinical Stabilization Services program.

ES: Addition treatment can be a difficult field to work in. What keeps you coming back every day?

WP: Working with the people we serve. Having an understanding that we deal with sick individuals and not personalizing the difficult behavior or comments that sometimes happen. You know, I would not still be here if I didn’t like serving our customers. We are part of the solution in our community. We do a lot of good.

ES: What is something that is unique about either your role or the program you work in compared to other Spectrum programming?

WP: The people. I can’t emphasize the team spirit enough. I do transportation, but I can sit down with a clinician, nurse, even the program director, and be treated with respect. They listen, everyone matters.

ES: You’ve worked with hundreds, possibly thousands of clients in your career here and changed countless lives; do you have any that stand out to you as a particularly successful story?

WP: Not one person in particular, but I get to see people – lots of people – out in the community, and witness people that are in such a better place now than I may have seen them in last. People will come up to me everywhere, even at the beach and say “Hey Wendell! You were my case manager” or “you drove me here and there.” That’s special.

ES: I noticed you refer to the people we serve as “customers” rather than “clients.” This is intentional, right?

WP: Yes, they are customers. It helps me to keep things in perspective. You know, they are paying for a service and I know how I want to be treated when I’m paying for a service. It doesn’t matter what the service is. You hope that when someone leaves, even if they are not able to move on to the next step in their recovery and find themselves needing to seek treatment again, that they want to come to Spectrum because they had a good experience.

ES: When you’re not working, what can you be found doing?

WP: I’m very active in my church – I’m a Deacon. I do a lot of community outreach. At one time I had three structured sober houses in the community. I have one currently.

ES: Wow. So you never really leave then do you?

WP: (laughs) Well, no I do, I do. I have a family, and dogs. I enjoy working on cars, and fishing. I like to go surf casting in the Hamptons or on the Cape. But I’m really passionate about helping others.

ES: Anything else you’d like to add?

WP: I have been very fortunate. Whatever department I went to [during my career at Spectrum] it was a team experience. It’s been pretty amazing.


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Millbury Clinic Celebrates Its Launch

Spectrum has long made a point of participating in and contributing to the neighborhoods in which it does business. This can be seen in its extensive pre-siting work with planning boards, neighborhood associations, police and politicians, and with the general citizenry. A recent example of this approach to community integration was written up in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette in late 2017. In Millbury, a small, quiet mill town suburb of Worcester, Spectrum encountered a great deal of resistance from area residents and even a lawsuit (which failed) to locating a much-needed outpatient clinic. The clinic has been a great neighbor, according to Chief of Police, Donald P. Desorcy. He and his team have not received the anticipated complaints since the clinic opened in July 2016; In fact, the Spectrum-installed security cameras were able to assist a neighboring business in making an arrest for theft. What people in Millbury have not realized until now, said Kristin Nolan, VP of inpatient and outpatient services, is that this clinic is serving Millbury residents and other small abutting towns. “So many people in this community were traveling to Worcester for medication-assisted treatment.” Instead they can receive medication and counseling in their own neighborhood. The program welcomes regular visits from the police and from neighboring business who are interested in touring. What a difference a year makes!


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