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Employee Spotlight: Meet Karen Hewitt, Regional Program Director for Spectrum’s Millbury and Milford Outpatient Treatment Centers

We’re excited to shine the spotlight on another one of our outstanding employees: Karen Hewitt!

Karen is the Regional Program Director for Spectrum’s Millbury and Milford Outpatient Treatment Centers, where she is responsible for the clinical, financial and environmental operations of both programs as well as overseeing the outpatient intake departments. Karen wears a variety of hats in this role as she supervises daily operations, checks in with clients, and meets with nursing staff, office coordinators, and clinical program directors.

Karen has always been passionate about working with people in need, which is eventually what brought her to the addiction treatment field. Prior to joining Spectrum, she worked at the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps as director of its 30-bed residential treatment program for at-risk children. After 13 years, she was looking for a change and Spectrum Health Systems felt like a great fit with opportunities to learn and grow, while still working with at-risk populations.

“I felt my knowledge of working in the human services field, although with children, could transition to helping people in need in this area,” said Karen. “I remember during my first interview, I was honest with the fact I knew very little about substance use but that I was willing to watch, listen and learn. I wasn’t sure if this would help or hinder my chance at the position, but I threw my hat in the ring so to speak, and here I am 15 years later!”

Karen has loved her time working at Spectrum, even during the past year-and-a-half, when the addiction treatment field went through so many changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our philosophy of treatment and recovery has remained the same, but in March 2020, we had to quickly adapt and make significant changes to how we deliver treatment. We implemented telehealth, provided emergency take-home medication, obtained personal protective equipment (PPE), and introduced social distancing and other safety measures to keep clients and staff safe. “The pandemic didn’t change what we do,” Karen explained, “but it did change how we do it – dramatically!”

“We had to make these changes in order to provide access to treatment in a safe environment, both for our clients and for the dedicated staff who came in each and every day without skipping a beat. I would have to say this was something I may be most proud of: the hard work and dedication of the teams at my locations who did not think twice about continuing to deliver essential services for at-risk people.”

The most rewarding part of the job, according to Karen, is getting to see people who make positive changes to get their lives back on track and to continue fighting every single day for themselves and their loved ones. She witnesses them get better physically, emotionally, and financially to become productive members of their families and communities. “I always feel a sense of great accomplishment, mostly for the clients who have faced obstacles and roadblocks, but also for all the staff who help along the way by offering a bag filled with recovery tools, support, and guidance. The most challenging thing is watching clients struggle to engage in their recovery and to find the strength to do this difficult work in order to live a happy and peaceful life.”

Recovery is never easy, and it does not have a timeline, so Karen had to learn that patience is a necessary part of working in addiction treatment. Despite all the work, dedication and commitment from clients and staff, the reality is that they are still battling a very powerful disease. “As staff, sometimes our job is to hold on to hope and faith for our clients until they are ready to hold it for themselves. When this does happen for a client, I realize that this is why we are here: to help people who cannot yet help themselves.”

Despite the challenges and setbacks, Karen has never regretted her choice to do this line of work. For all of the struggles, she and her staff have the privilege of bearing witness to successful journeys of recovery that lead to a lifetime of fulfillment.

Outside of her work with Spectrum, Karen loves to listen to live music, read on the beach, and spend time traveling with her husband and hiking with their dog.

If you or a loved one is struggling with an alcohol or other drug addiction, call Spectrum Health Systems today at 1-877-MyRehab. For more information about joining the Spectrum team, visit our careers page.

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