Let’s face it—we’re all having a more difficult time lately.
We’re especially sensitive to the unique difficulties faced by our alumni, patients, and future patients. Isolation can cause all sorts of problems for people with mental health and substance use disorders and for people in recovery. We’ve taken time in previous blogs to provide tips for people facing isolation, health anxiety, job instability, and other challenges of this coronavirus pandemic.
Everyone has had to adapt. People are working from home and feel more disconnected than ever. There are line-ups at grocery stores. Hand sanitizer is a rare commodity. People feel trapped at home with toxic or abusive relatives. The situation feels dire. Our clinical teams are working tirelessly to ensure our facilities are not only as safe as possible, but still offer the intensive treatment experience we’re known for. In the addiction medicine world, connection, community, and closeness are necessary for healing and recovery. Now, we’re living in a world that depends on staying 2 metres apart.
We Need Inspiration During Difficult Times
In these dark times, lights can shine even brighter. We’ve seen the best of people when they are faced with difficult situations. We’ve been witness to a number of wonderful people doing outstanding things, stepping up when our patients, alumni, and recovery communities need them the most. We’re going to dedicate some blog posts over the coming weeks to amazing people in our communities. After all, our patients and alumni say time and time again that it is the people they meet in treatment that make a lifelong impression and can influence their recovery in powerful ways. We know our people are special. We want to showcase them to you. We hope you find it inspirational.
Our first spotlight is on Joe Manget.
Joe is the CEO of EHN Canada. In other words, he’s the head of our organization. Think what you want of c-suite executives, but Joe exhibits a drive and determination to improve our healthcare system for everyone. He’s run Ironman triathlons and is working towards his PhD. Last year, he was awarded EY’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award in the Healthcare category for the province of Ontario. On paper, Joe’s accomplishments and accolades paint an intimidating picture, but Joe is a refreshingly down-to-earth person who puts heart and hard work into this organization. Joe comes to patient graduations (a tearfully triumphant send-off ceremony to celebrate patients who’ve completed treatment). Bringing other staff in tow, Joe congratulates patients and their families when they are about to start their new lives.
That heart and hard work is no accident. EHN Canada is borne out of Joe’s mission to fill in the gaps in our incredibly important yet overburdened public healthcare system. Determination like this comes only from first-hand experience. When his corporate star was rising as a senior partner at BCG Canada, Joe witnessed one of the healthcare system’s greatest challenges: end-of-life care. Joe lost both of his parents six months apart. At the time, Joe was apoplectic—in a time of great grief, he ran head-first up against some of the greatest weaknesses of our healthcare system. Joe was already a board member of Bridgepoint Hospital, and he saw how excellent care can be efficient as well. (Side note: Joe is on countless boards. His staff think he has found a way to invent a day with six extra hours to accomplish all that he does). Joe made a promise to himself: to help Canadians get healthcare that is, in his words, the following:
(1) Affordable: paid for by government or employers
(2) Accessible: immediately available without year-long waiting lists
(3) Excellent: based on best available scientific research
Thus EHN Canada began. Joe has big aspirations to help Canadians looking for excellent, affordable care not only for mental health and addiction, but also for long-term care and other chronic conditions. In order to do this full-time, Joe left what he calls his “big” corporate job running billion-dollar operations to spend more time with his family. In his previous career, Joe was traveling overseas up to three times a month and spending very little time with his teenaged children. His biggest regret was not spending more time with his parents before they died, and he didn’t want to inflict the same situation on his own family. Joe now operates in a “very different world” from his former career, heading up operations for treatment facilities across Canada from EHN Canada headquarters in Toronto.
Our CEO Is Stepping Up
These past few weeks, Joe has been taking on additional responsibilities. To lend extra help to our support counsellors, Joe has helped our patients get exercise (all the while ensuring everyone is able to maintain safe physical distance, of course). Joe has been taking patients on morning hikes on the scenic trails surrounding Bellwood. He mentions that it’s a nice chance to get outside and connect with the community of patients staying at Bellwood, asking them about their experiences in treatment and listening to their stories and feedback. Apart from criticism of the hikes being “too hard” according to some patients, who cited Joe’s triathlon training as an unfair advantage, Joe was able to have some meaningful conversations with patients.
Here are two of Joe’s hiking routes.
Connecting With Others While Distancing
Many patients said they were nervous about leaving treatment and going into a world less sheltered from the looming danger of coronavirus. “Some patients told me how safe they felt in Bellwood versus outside of Bellwood,” Joe says, “they felt very good about our infection control procedures and that we are trying our best to take care of them and keep them safe.” Another patient mentioned to Joe how impressed she was with the caring nature of our staff and the intensity of the clinical treatment. While Joe recognizes the value of having meaningful conversations with patients, he also knows how crucial it is to take some pressure off the hard-working clinical team who are putting every ounce of effort into ensuring patients are safe.
When the head of your organization rolls up his proverbial sleeves and helps out, you know you’re working at a caring place. We’ll be sharing more stories about people rising to the occasion during uncertain and difficult coronavirus times. Check back here on our blog, or like our Facebook page, to see more as they’re posted.