Spectrum Health Systems

Reflection: A Look Back on An Impactful Year

Published On: December 30th, 2021Categories: News, Spectrum Corrections

Whether you’re in recovery, treatment, or active addiction – this past year likely posed some extra challenges. We saw many changes in 2021, from telehealth services to vaccine mandates and everything in between, and sometimes it felt impossible to keep up.

Join us as we reflect on all the great things that did come out of last year and help us celebrate the incredible milestones that took place at Spectrum Health Systems in 2021.

How Things Started

As COVID-19 began to spread around Massachusetts in February of 2020, the Spectrum and New England Recovery Center teams came together to create a specialized COVID-19 unit. The unit was re-opened this past year, to continue treating those suffering from drug and alcohol use disorders, as well as COVID-19. We stayed true to our mission to help those experiencing substance use disorders during the pandemic, and this year we were especially grateful to provide vaccinations to staff members and high-risk clients, supplied by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

The New England Recovery Center was pleased to have been the recipient of a generous donation from Mission Hugs Not Drugs, which is an organization formed by Holliston High School students that educates communities on the dangers of substance use. As part of the partnership, Spectrum’s VP of Clinical Services, Lisa Blanchard, gave a presentation to students focusing on the effects of different substances on the body, the recovery process, how to support people in recovery, and how to stay away from high-risk behaviors.

We were also proud to announce the most recent awardees of the President’s Club which acknowledges and celebrates our most exemplary employees. Team members were nominated by their fellow co-workers for embracing our core values and performing their duties with enthusiasm and dedication, ultimately encouraging others to do the same.

In July, we launched our Magnolia Fast Virtual Meeting Series in partnership with Magnolia Consulting Services. This weekly support group is available for those who know someone and/or care for someone living with a substance use disorder. Meetings are held every Wednesday at 6pm ET.

Employee Spotlights

Spectrum Health Systems wouldn’t be the company it is today without its employees. Throughout the year, we took time to highlight our employees’ hard work and dedication to making clients, fellow staff members and guests feel welcome and heard.

We got the chance to sit down with a few employees to chat about their roles, and what it means to work in addiction treatment.

  • We spoke with Sanjay Grant, Program Director, at our Pleasant Street outpatient treatment center in Worcester. This center offers rapid access to medication for addiction recovery treatment.
  • We sat down with Sharif Nankoe, Medical Director for our new statewide correctional program in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Correction, serving inmates with opioid use disorder (OUD).
  • We spoke with our SUD Program Director, Cinderella Stiltner, about her role overseeing the SUD program at the Appalachian Community Corrections Alternative Program (ACCAP) in Honaker, VA, and what she finds to be the most rewarding part of her job.
  • We spoke with our Regional Program Director for the Millbury and Milford outpatient treatment centers, Karen Hewitt. Karen is responsible for the clinical, financial, and environmental operations of both programs while overseeing the outpatient intake department.
  • We also sat down with Jesse Chaison, our Family Engagement Specialist and the newest co-host of Spectrum’s Airing Addiction podcast! Jesse joins co-host Lisa Blanchard, Vice President of Clinical Services, on the show. We are looking forward to what they have in store for us in 2022!

A few of our staff members received awards this year as well. The Association for Behavioral Healthcare (ABH) awarded Tracy Desruisseaux, Director of Spectrum’s Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) program, this year’s Outstanding Leadership Award for her contributions to behavioral healthcare.

While these are just a few of the amazing individuals that make up Spectrum’s team, we also wanted to shine a light on employees who gave back to the local communities we serve. Several staff donated goods to the Worcester County Food Bank on behalf of our Lincoln Street Outpatient Center. Staff members also recently volunteered at the Lincoln Street Elementary School to serve breakfast to more than 200 kids! We are always delighted and amazed to see how our staff comes together and gives back to those in need.


During Spectrum’s recent accreditation by CARF International, a nonprofit accreditor of health and human service providers, we received an exemplary citation for our designated COVID-19 unit. CARF has a rigorous set of standards to ensure that agencies are providing the best possible care for their clients. We also received a three-year accreditation for treating inmates with substance use disorders within prison and probation settings throughout the state of Georgia.

Client Success

This year, we helped so many people navigate their recovery journey. Hear from some of the clients who allowed us the privilege of sharing their personal stories.

  • Michael Depalo: “The staff at Spectrum took good care of me. Dr. Baxter was the nicest guy I have ever met, and he put up with me as I was in a dark place. I was able to walk into Spectrum and be surrounded by people who genuinely cared about me and would be with me through my whole recovery journey.”
  • Roslyn: “You get help with a lot of things at Spectrum, beyond just recovering from an addiction. Sanjay Grant, Spectrum’s Program Director helped me look for a doctor. Whatever you need, the staff at Spectrum will find someone who can help you.”
  • Jose: “My recovery was within me. I had been looking for help for years, but I didn’t know where to begin. I didn’t want to buy into any system and follow strict guidelines on how I had to present myself to my peers. Spectrum allowed me to come as I was and provided me with the ability to build my recovery.”
  • Jaclyn: “I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. I have to credit Spectrum for playing a huge part in my recovery. You have to work the program, attach to the clinicians, and open up.”

While these are just a few remarkable client success stories, Spectrum is proud of all of our clients for being able to share their stories. There is power in sharing your story, especially amongst those who may be going through a similar situation. That’s why we were excited when Spectrum’s New England Recovery Center launched its Alumni Community Group page on Facebook earlier this year. This group gives former clients a space to find support and interact with each other.

To say 2021 was impactful would be an understatement. The year brought so many stories of triumph, dedication, perseverance, and teamwork. We are proud to see how far we have come, but we know we still have more to do.

How Things Are Going

Over the last few months, we took time to celebrate many key national holidays, such as World Mental Health Day and National Recovery Month by shedding light on addiction recovery and highlighting some of the events hosted by our peer recovery centers to help raise awareness.

We are excited to round out 2021 by announcing the opening of our second rapid access treatment program in Framingham, Mass. In partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the program follows a proven “hub and spoke” model of care. Clients can access same-day treatment, receive their first dose of medication, and participate in ongoing treatment at our Framingham location. Once stabilized, clients will be referred to a “spoke” for continuing care closer to home. The program is set to open on Tuesday, January 4, with same-day admission and walk-in access available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

Throughout this past year, our team has continued to provide top-notch service and we are looking forward to drawing upon our years of experience to further our mission in 2022 and beyond.

If you or a loved one is struggling with drug addiction, call Spectrum Health Systems today at 1-877-MyRehab. If you are a caregiver, friend or family member of someone struggling with addiction, join our free virtual family support meeting series Wednesday evenings.

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