2020 has been quite a year, globally, here in America, for all of us individually, and certainly here at Maryland Addiction Recovery Center. There year started off like many others, full of hope, promise, and excitement surrounding the 365 days to come.

However, quickly in March, we were all jolted into a reality. A global health pandemic, COVID-19, was upon us and our way of life was disrupted. People were getting sick and dying. Nationwide restrictions were put in place, shutdowns occurred, and the impact to many was brutal.  Businesses were forced to close, many of which are still closed and some that will never reopen. Schools went virtual and parents became teachers. Curfews and social distancing measures caused worldwide isolation, which in turn fed an already rising crisis of substance use disorder, mental health issues, and thoughts of suicide throughout America. Then, in the middle of the pandemic, the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police led to nationwide protests and social unrest, forcing the nation to look the long history of racism and racial disparity in America. Most recently, an emotional presidential election has caused even more turmoil, strife, and grief throughout the country.

Here at Maryland Addiction Recovery Center, as we stand on the frontlines of combating America’s addiction and mental health epidemic, we had to learn how to operate in a pandemic while continuing to offer world-class treatment to our patients and families. We pivoted and adapted. We spent countless hours listening to, interpreting, and implementing the last health and safety measures being put for by the CDC, information that seemed to change moment-to-moment. We quarantined our extended care community from the outside world and took our intensive outpatient (IOP) programs virtual. Our management team in consultation with our medical department continued to change policies and protocols in accordance with the latest information from federal government agencies and our local health department. Throughout these many changes and adaptions, we kept in the foresight of our decision-making the direct care being given to our patients, making sure to keep our staff and patients healthy and safe, while making sure not to sacrifice quality of care. 

This year has been different for sure, but we are inherently proud of the work the entire MARC team has done to make sure we have been able to continue to deliver high quality, life-saving addiction and co-occurring treatment to our patients and their families.

Take a look at the 2020 Year in Pictures here at Maryland Addiction Recovery Center.

May 2020: We co-hosted “Addiction Treatment Leadership Round Table: Inter-Agency Collaboration during COVID-19”, a virtual roundtable, alongside leadership from NAATP, Ashley Addiction Treatment, Caron Treatment Centers, Cirque Lodge, and Cumberland Heights. MARC Co-Founder and Executive Director Sam Bierman participated in the round table event with colleagues Marvin Ventrell of NAATP, Jay Crosson, CEO of Cumberland Heights, Alex Denstman, VP and Chief Growth Officer at Ashley Addiction Treatment, Gary Fisher, Executive Director of Cirque Lodge, and Brad Sorte, EVP and Chief Growth Officer at Caron Treatment Centers.

We implemented social distancing and full mask policies, among other health and safety protocols. Demonstrated here by our Clinical Director Dr. Jennifer Richards, PsyD, Family Therapist Arielle Seidler, LCSW-C, and our newest Primary Therapist Erica Mullinix, LCPC, who joined the MARC team in 2020.

October 2020: In an effort to better inform our staff and support people of color, we brought in a multi-day workshop titled “Understanding, Valuing, and Respecting Cultural Differences” through the Black Mental Health Alliance and facilitated by Dr. Bruce Purnell, founder of The Love More Movement. This led to the creation of an internal committee to continue making sure that we are best able to serve patients and families from different demographics and continue to stay culturally competent in our treatment services.

While we continued to create and strengthen partnerships within the industry to provide the best in patient care, meetings looked a little different this year. In October we welcomed our friend and colleague Zac Clark, Co-Founder of Release Recovery in New York, to the MARC clinical campus in Towson. Zac spent time with MARC Co-Founders Zach Snitzer and Sam Bierman and Director of Business Development Mallorie Schwartzman.

Our TA staff also learned to operate within the pandemic, making sure to follow all the necessary health and safety measures. Here, TA staff members Jessica Jackson, Sean O’Brien, Greg Buchser, and Kendall Arnold are “masked up” at the extended care Community Living campus.

At the very end of 2019, we welcome LaShanda Roberts, MSN, BSN, RN, FNP-BC, to the MARC team, joining the medical department as our nurse practitioner. We’re not sure if LaShanda knew what she was in for, as just several months after she started with MARC, COVID-19 happened. LaShanda, however, rose to the challenge like the superstar that she is, making sure to take care of all the medical needs of our patients, coordinating and implementing protocols in collaboration with MARC management, leadership and Medical Services Coordinator Colleen Waterfield, and performing all necessary COVID-19 testing as the pandemic continued.

In the beginning of the pandemic, we wanted to make sure that our community living patients were still able to get their weekly shopping done, but still stay healthy and safe from rising COVID-19 numbers throughout Maryland. So our Director of Support Services Brent Coleman, RPS, and the TA staff were able to partner with local grocers Giant and Safeway to have groceries delivered or picked up in bulk, so the MARC patients didn’t need to make their weekly outing to get groceries. Here, Corey Long, Chris McDuffie, and David Magill are shown picking up weekly groceries for our community living patients.

Connection and collaboration went virtual. Here, MARC Corporate Director of Business Development Zach Snitzer, Director of Business Development Mallorie Schwartzman, Community Relations Specialist Ryan Burton, and Director of Admissions Maura Maguire connect with friends, colleagues, and interventionists Don Sloane and Roger Hoff of Recovery Care Partner.

Even in the midst of a rising pandemic, we wanted to make sure that we continued offering MARC as a place of learning for the next generation of behavioral health professionals. This year, we welcomed Hannah Cherry from the University of Maryland School of Social Work for her fellowship program, as well as Damian Randall from Stevenson University as an intern. Hannah was supervised by MARC’s Arielle Seidler and Damian received supervision from MARC’s Corinne Burnett.

Outreach, marketing, and networking events took on a very different feel in 2020. Many went virtual, but every so often we were able to participate in an in-person networking event, like this one in Washington, D.C. hosted by New Points Sober Living. Our Director of Business Development Mallorie Schwartzman attended alongside colleagues from Ashley Addiction Treatment, Silver Ridge, Tranquility Woods, Encore Outpatient Services, Sandstone Care, Recovery Centers of America, Summit BHC, Caron Treatment Centers, Turnbridge, and Palisades House, amongst others.

Our admissions teams continued to work to make sure patients were able to access care at MARC, as well as make sure that both patients and their families were secure in the health and safety protocols that we had put into place. Here is the MARC admissions team: Intake Specialists Amanda Winfield, ADT, and Tim Holt, LMSW, and Director of Admissions Maura Maguire.

October 2020: MARC’s Director of Business Development Mallorie Schwartzman and Corporate Director of Marketing Zach Snitzer spent the morning at our clinical campus in Towson with our friends and colleagues from Mountainside in Connecticut, David Megenis and Matty Blomquist.

Some events and celebrations still happened in person, such as the exciting ribbon cutting for Maryland’s first recovery high school, The Phoenix Recovery Academy. Seen here with Phoenix Foundation Founder and President John Edmunds are MARC Director of Business Development Mallorie Schwartzman, Co-Founder and Executive Director Sam Bierman, and Community Relations Specialist Ryan Burton.

June 2020: We welcomed Kyle Aaron, M.Ed, LCPC, to the MARC team as our new Vocational Therapist to oversee the MARC vocational program for our extended care Community Living patients.

While the pandemic continued, upgrades still needed to be made. In November, we completed the renovation of our patient gym and fitness area at the community living campus, with help from our partners Josh and Elyse Buchbinder of B-Strong Athletics.

The COVID-19 pandemic made 2020 very difficult for our extended care patients to even get the most normal of everyday issues taken care of, which certainly included haircuts. Thankfully, we were able to have local the wonderful women from Roxy’s Salon in Nottingham, Maryland come by one weekend to give every patient a cut or trim that wanted one. Roxy and her staff are pictured here with MARC TA staff members D.J. DiPetrillo, Kendall Arnold, and Sean O’Brien.

June 2020: Another new addition to our family at MARC was Erica Mullinix, LCPC, MS, who joined the MARC clinical team as our newest Primary Therapist.

Our business development team was able to travel to visit some of our industry and community partners this year. One of those visits happened at the Caron Treatment Centers outpatient location in Philadelphia, where MARC’s Mallorie Schwartzman and Ryan Burton met with Executive Director Monica Drisoll and Lead Recovery Support Specialist Ally Ries.

Every year on Thanksgiving and Christmas, we create a large feast at our Community Living campus for our patients to spend the holidays with their families. This year, however, changes needed to be made to keep everyone healthy and safe. Social distancing and masks were upheld, and instead of one large event we created a schedule of smaller events. All family members that attended also needed to come with negative COVID-19 test results, and rather than having the patients prepare the meal like in other years, this year food was prepared by a vendor and brought in to be served individually.

September 2020: Our Director of Business Development Mallorie Schwartzman spent some time in Philadelphia and on the main line outside the city, meeting during her trip with friend and colleague Andy Roysdon, Director of Clinical Outreach at Ashley Addiction Treatment.

Even when traveling to local facilities, like MARC’s Mallorie Schwartzman did here in June to meet with Tim Zukas at Tranquility Woods, we made sure to be at least a safe 6 feet apart in distance.

It has been such a difficult and heavy year, and clarity and communication amongst the MARC team has been primary to stay on top of new information and patient care. However, it is important to try to find joy wherever you can. So, to demonstrate the importance of communication between staff members during COVID-19, MARC therapists Arielle Seidler and Corinne Burnett took some time to have fun with University of Maryland School of Social Work fellow Hannah Cherry and Stevenson University intern Damian Randall in demonstrating the need for effective communication. We were blessed to have such incredible students as Hannah and Damian work with us this year and they moved towards their chosen careers in mental health and substance use disorder treatment and therapy.

2020 has been difficult, and COVID-19 continues to impact our families, our loved ones, our communities, our country, and our way of life. Fortunately, there is hope on the horizon. And, just as we promised at the end of 2019, as 2020 comes to a close we make the same promise: That whatever occurs, here at Maryland Addiction Recovery Center we will continue to adapt, to overcome, and to deliver the latest in evidence-based, high quality patient care for those suffering from addiction and co-occurring disorders in order to help them find recovery, hope, healing, meaning, purpose, direction, and a high quality of life.

If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorder issues, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis addiction treatment in the Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at info@marylandaddictionrecovery.com. For more information on all of our drug addiction, alcohol addiction and co-occurring disorder services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at www.marylandaddictionrecovery.com.

Zach Snitzer is the Corporate Director of Marketing at Maryland Addiction Recovery Center and is responsible for the business development, marketing, branding, public relations and social media strategies of the organization.