With a background in both the clinical and administrative sides of behavioral health care, Lisa Blanchard knows that making treatment accessible is key to affecting positive change amid the addiction epidemic. It’s a philosophy that she embodies in her role as Chief Clinical Officer at Spectrum Health Systems, where she works to design programming and curriculum for those impacted by substance misuse and co-occurring disorders.
Lisa began at Spectrum 23 years ago, shortly after completing her undergraduate studies. At the time, Spectrum had only three outpatient programs. During her tenure, that number has grown to 15, a fitting indication of the effort that Lisa and the rest of the Spectrum team have put in to expanding their treatment offerings. Throughout her roles, Lisa focused her efforts on lowering the barrier of access to care. She advocated for and helped design strategies like same-day admissions. Knowing that individuals with substance misuse may only be willing to accept treatment for brief periods of time, the primary goal of this strategy is to ensure help was available the moment someone was ready to accept it.
Improving Systems of Treatment
In her initial role as Intake Manager, Lisa helped merge the disparate mental health and addiction intake departments to assure that individuals with co-occurring disorders received the most effective level of care. She would move from there into various program director roles before becoming the director of Spectrum’s largest outpatient facility in 2009. Outside of work, she would also go on to complete her master’s in counseling and become a licensed mental health counselor. She also spent some time working as a clinician, which gave her expertise and experience she would use throughout her career.
Eventually, Lisa took on the role of Spectrum’s VP of Clinical Services, where she focused on adjusting and developing Spectrum’s clinical services to meet the changing needs of individuals entering care and moving the organization to become a recovery oriented integrated care system.
It was during this time that she also took leadership of Spectrum’s community partner programs, which use outreach services to bring treatment to high-risk individuals in the community. Using community-based care coordination, these programs provide integrated care to individuals in need of mental health services, substance misuse treatment, or both.
Working to End the Cycle of Addiction
A lot of progress has been made in the addiction treatment field since Lisa’s career began, but when she looks to the future, she still sees more progress to be made. “There’s still room for reducing the stigma of addiction and really supporting all the pathways of recovery,” she said. She’s encouraged by the increasing acceptance of Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) as a viable path for long-term recovery and is glad to see the increasing prevalence of substance use disorder treatment services in correctional facilities, but she knows the progress can’t stop there.
As she works with her team to design clinical programming and curriculum, Lisa stays closely attuned to the voices and experiences of those in recovery. Speaking to individuals in recovery is one of her favorite things about co-hosting her podcast, Airing Addiction. In her show, she’s able to connect with people on all sides of treatment and recovery.
By staying engaged with the recovery community, Lisa works to develop new ways to connect with people in need of treatment. “It doesn’t matter how someone comes,” she said. “Whether it’s an inpatient setting, an outpatient setting, or a correctional setting, our goal is to meet them where they’re at and help them move forward.”
For more information about working at Spectrum Health Systems, visit the careers page on our website.