Three counsellors from the Mentally Ill Chemical Abusers (MICA) program for women shared their daily life with two new female residents who were quarantined due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The counsellors accompanied the residents as they embarked on their rehabilitation program while remaining in their supervised apartment for the duration of the quarantine period. Further proof of the Portage team’s unwavering determination and dedication.
The MICA rehabilitation program has been available to women with substance abuse and mental health issues for two years now. The centre has already welcomed several women, underscoring the need for a treatment program targeting concomitant substance use and mental health issues, a type of program that is still relatively rare in the rehabilitation sector. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the admission process for new residents had to be completely overhauled. Head of admissions, Johanne Cadieux, and two other counsellors (Valérie Chartier and Liane Berry) joined the new residents in their supervised apartment to help them integrate into the MICA program during the 16-day isolation period.
The women began self-isolating on May 11, 2020. Each had their own room, affording them some privacy and alone time. As the residents started their treatment program while in isolation, a videoconference was organized to introduce them to the larger women’s community at the MICA centre in Montreal. Johanne shared her views on this out-of-the-ordinary experience with us: “Because of COVID‑19, we had to find a way to continue reaching out to women who needed our help. I was tasked with organizing an induction phase (the first few weeks of therapy) for quarantined residents in order to prevent any risk of spreading the virus to the rest of the staff and community. I set up a desk in my apartment to continue making calls and processing admissions at the same time. The two other counsellors and I worked on a rotating basis, making sure there was someone on site at all times. I worked 165 hours, including eight nights on site, in the space of 16 daysʺ.
The counsellors were available to help the new residents at all times during this extraordinary period.
ʺThe cook at the MICA centre sent us frozen foods, but we had to prepare all our meals together. I was all at once a nurse, a cook and a counsellorʺ, explains the head of admissions.
ʺWe went for walks every day and sunbathed on the terrace. It was an exceptional experience for both
residents. They were fortunate to have three counsellors there just for them and it helped establish a bond. They actually ended up calling me sister. The other women in the community welcomed the new residents into the fold, greeting them with a poem written just for them. ʺ
Magic happens at Portage, once more.