The foundations of our world are being buffeted by the Coronavirus and our society is facing challenges that have not been experienced for generations. This too shall pass, but we have no idea when we will come out of it or how it will look on the other side.
Uncertainty breeds fear. With fear, I am never afraid of good things happening, I am only afraid of the bad things. My faith helps anchor me in the belief I have no control over outcomes and that all personal growth comes from life’s challenges.
There have been many examples of staff supporting each other and going above and beyond. I am humbled by all of them.
However, I have had staff ask if we are being responsible to continue to accept new admissions. I have been contemplating this from the start and have discussed with our leadership team and many others in, and outside, our family, including many in the industry about what the “right” thing to do is.
There is not a clear right or wrong answer to the question. However, the overwhelming majority of treatment centers are continuing to admit. There are many other businesses that are continuing to produce and distribute essential products and services for our benefit.
Just because others may be doing it, does not make it “right” nor does it make it “wrong”. It is a personal decision, and my personal decision is that we continue to serve this incredibly vulnerable segment of the population who suffer from the fatal disease of addiction and mental health, particularly at a time of immense stress on every part of our society.
You may disagree with my rationale and many others may have a different perspective than I. Here are some of the reasons I will do all I can to continue operations while providing as much safety as possible:
- We are in the health care services field. When entering this field, there is a commitment to serve others’ needs ahead of our own. I am only here today by the grace of God and people who held my hand and walked me through the program of recovery. They showed up for me when it was inconvenient for them and without them showing up for me, I would not be here today. Therefore, I will be here for those suffering from this disease as much as people who are continuing to administer health care services to people suffering from diseases other than COVID-19. Similarly, I shudder to think about the family who desperately needs treatment for their loved one only to find the doors closed.
- Health care work must continue regardless of circumstances. I cannot imagine going for my third Chemotherapy appointment and getting there with a notice saying “we are closed to serving those with cancer because we are afraid we might catch the COVID-19 virus. We hope you live through the Coronavirus pandemic and we will be pleased to restart your program then.” We at Aurora are treating a fatal disease, and it is our commitment to remain open for so long as we can to help others.
- In the US, approximately 400 people die each DAY from alcohol or drug overdoses. In the last week, approximately 2800 have died as the result of this disease, pretty close to the loss at 9/11. This fatality rate is a lot more than the number of COVID-19 fatalities in the US to date!
- There will be a surge of people with SUD that need treatment. Active users have little choice but to spend time at home continuing their use which creates an unsustainable stressful environment that leads to interventions. Imagine a family facing this decision but nowhere to go for help. Hospitals do not want to take them. Quick Care clinics cannot be of help. Access to 12-step meetings is more limited and imagine someone in early withdrawal connecting to a virtual meeting online and remaining sober?
- I have spoken with a number of established centers in both the US and Canada and they continue to accept admits. The overwhelming majority of centers are continuing to operate using the precautions that we use based on guidance from the CDC and other governmental agencies.
- When I go to the grocery store, pick up a tea at Starbucks or speak to someone at a government health agency, I have immense gratitude that their staff are willing to serve others with hundreds, if not thousands of people coming into their space daily. They are risking themselves to ensure I have the food, some convenience and accurate information to be able to live my life as the new normal it is today.
We all have a choice to do what we do. I choose to be of service to the best of my ability through COVID-19 and beyond.
Paul D. Melnuk
Founder and Chairman
Aurora Recovery Centre