Having started as a clinician in 2000, Kristin Nolan has deep roots with Spectrum Health Systems. Early on, she found the clinical work rewarding, but over time she began to feel like she could have a broader impact in the addiction treatment field by focusing her efforts on the operations side of things. Now serving as Spectrum’s Chief Behavioral Health Officer, Kristin oversees inpatient, outpatient, adolescent, and medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) services.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given,” she said of her time with Spectrum. During her tenure, Spectrum helped her attain her MBA, enriching her career path. Spectrum also supported her through the process of getting married and having children, allowing her to take the time she needed as a mother. “I never had to choose between my career and my family, and that’s not the case at every company,” she said.
She feels that the value Spectrum places on its employees has played a major role in her commitment to the organization. “It’s important to keep staff who want to be here, because the work isn’t always easy,” she said. “So, the unique ways in which Spectrum has committed itself to retaining our staff has had a positive impact on our treatment system.”
Prioritizing Mental Health Treatment
Kristin has overseen many important changes and developments during her time with Spectrum. As mental health issues have grown more prevalent over the last several decades, she has worked to ensure that Spectrum can adequately meet the needs not only of those with substance use disorders, but with a range of mental health diagnoses as well. “Fifteen years ago, treatment wasn’t individualized,” she said. “Today, there is a whole recovery toolbox that individuals have access to and the combination of tools is different for everyone—no matter what they’re struggling with.”
Improving Access to Care During COVID
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Kristin worked to prevent the virus from becoming another barrier to care. She oversaw Spectrum’s COVID-specific unit, which provided substance use disorder treatment to people with positive COVID diagnoses. Because of Spectrum’s exceptional ability to pivot its focus, the unit was functional by April of 2020, just one month after the World Health Organization announced the outbreak had become a pandemic. In addition to treating COVID-positive clients, Spectrum also leveraged its resources to establish a COVID vaccination center, helping to vaccinate Spectrum employees as well as nine other agencies in the treatment field.
Finding New Ways to Reach People
In keeping with the spirit of meeting people where they are, Kristin was also the driving force behind Spectrum’s new mobile treatment unit. By using a specialized outreach vehicle, this program offers MOUD treatment to people who may not have the resources to receive it otherwise—such as members of the unsheltered community. “We’re really focused on improving how we get people into treatment. Or, in the case of the mobile unit, how we get treatment to the people,” she said.
As she looks to her future with Spectrum, Kristin remains focused on breaking down barriers to care. She knows that with the dangers posed by drugs like fentanyl, addiction treatment providers will need to leverage new ways of engaging people with substance use disorders. The innovative projects she’s overseen represent important progress in this regard, and she’s glad to be with an organization that has made some of those developments possible.
For more information about working at Spectrum Health Systems, visit the careers page on our website.