Realizing we could not celebrate our 45th year in person any time soon, we opted to host our Annual General Meeting online. With a modest, yet effective, attendance of society members, we bid farewell to outgoing chairperson, Tom Lysyk, and director, Richard Stephens, and welcomed new directors Greg Buchanan, Blake Hassall, Sharon Williams, Marty Kindrachuk, and Gary Herriot. The usual presentations and showcase of our year-in-review was foregone for the sake of brevity. Needless to say, we look forward to hosting our supporters in the future to share in the stories of the lives they changed.
Enter December 2020 and we find ourselves with a staff-related positive case and are on lockdown. Admissions are halted, clients are now isolated in their dorms and staff contact is restricted. With funds from the Lloydminster & District United Way we are able to purchase isolation kits with TVs, game consoles, DVD players on carts to travel through the hallways to bring entertainment between the one-on-one sessions with counsellors (since group meetings are no longer possible). The tone within the facility is unsettling. Staff are frustrated that they cannot continue with the traditional treatment plans and come up with unique ways to engage the therapeutic community. Clients are frustrated with their sudden loss of community and freedom. Because of the unanticipated lockdown and the realization that Christmas is around the corner, nearly half of our population decides to terminate treatment prematurely. Our team continues to strive for a positive experience and makes the best of the holiday. However, after two weeks and two rounds of testing of all staff, clients, volunteers, and contractors, we have no other cases and are cleared to resume ‘normal’ operations.
We start the new year with a sigh of relief. We made it through our first case and have found a strength we didn’t know existed. Our team is sharp, focussed, and we all work together to provide the best possible treatment program. With admissions resuming, we have a flood of new clients and welcome 67 new faces into our Centre; quite possibly the most people we’ve ever had in a single month!
That brings us to today. We look back on the year that transformed how we approach recovery and wellness. This was a year of transformation; and although the pandemic has brought challenges, we have emerged stronger than ever. We have improved the client’s connection to their home communities through Alumni Mentors and resources through our Social Workers, we have modified our staffing to better support those we serve, we have made our Family Intensive program more accessible to those who are affected by addiction.
The pandemic has been a nuisance, but perhaps it is something we can still be grateful for. Finding the little joys in every day is something we encourage at the Centre, and we would be hypocritical if we didn’t follow this practice too.
We wish to thank everyone who has reached out, supported, and advocated for mental health and addiction this past year. You have made the pandemic a shining moment in Thorpe’s history.