May 19, 2021

Laguna Treatment Center

Lynnette Mitchell, director of nursing at Laguna Treatment Center, penned an article for the LA Times recounting the challenges of the past year treating the disease of addiction in the midst of a global pandemic.

In the piece, Mitchell admits to not thinking much of COVID-19 in early 2020 – she had experience with the H1N1 outbreak in 2009 and the MERS outbreak in 2012. But once the severity of the situation was revealed, the article details how she and her team rapidly adapted protocols that coincided with CDC guidelines to continue treating the increasing number of patients who were struggling with addiction while encountering roadblocks that were completely unexpected.

One surprise Mitchell states in her article was that addiction treatment providers were simultaneously considered essential and non-essential workers. Substance abuse significantly increased in 2020, so in one instance, the nursing team at the facility was treating patients discharged from emergency rooms, but they struggled to get PPE for their growing patient population and they were excluded from the priority list of healthcare providers able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The past 12 months have been difficult for many behavioral and mental health providers as they struggled to be treated as the healthcare providers they were, which has lead to very interesting times.

Mitchell’s article recounting the past year as an addiction treatment provider can be read here.