“This is Exactly Where I Need to Be”

A Conversation with Hospitality and Engagement Specialist Lead, Tinesha Harmon

Tinesha Harmon is the Hospitality and Engagement Specialist Lead at Evergreen Treatment Services. In her role, she is responsible for supporting clients during their visit to ETS clinics. Learn more about how Tinesha’s role and the H&E Department contribute to the wellbeing of our patients.

*This interview has been edited for space

 

Your new title is Hospitality and Engagement (HE) Specialist Lead. How is this new role different than your previous position?

This is a recent change to our department, which was formerly known as public safety. Under the Public Safety Department, we were more hands off. We observed and reported what we saw on the floor. Now, we’re more about engaging and supporting – it’s a nice evolution.

Before the change, Public Safety was trying to figure out how we could better serve our patients in the clinics. How could we make this position more integrated, and how could we join the services and create a holistic experience for our patients? So, H&E Specialist was derived from that.

 

What does hospitality look like for the people you serve?

Hospitality starts the minute people walk in our door. They’re met with a door screener, who greets them and finds out about their day. We try not to let people pass us without at least a check in of “How are you doing today?”

The people we serve are often homeless or in the early stages of recovery. This is sometimes the only human interaction that they get. Whether it’s coming to case management services or just coming in the building, we don’t want people to feel like they’re just a number. When you come here, it’s not about where you are in your program. It’s about leaving with an experience that makes you want to come back.

This type of service has definitely brought out the best in our new employees and our patients. The staff I work with are like-minded – they want to see patients come here and be treated like human beings. When they come through the door, they know this is a place that values that they’re here.

 

How do you envision your role to continue to change with this new focus?

I’d like to see us continue to evolve to create an even safer space and an atmosphere that is engaging, encouraging, supportive, and therapeutic. This is a serious place and we’re doing serious things, but there’s no reason why it can’t be an environment that’s also enjoyable.

So, I see us continuing to grow, continuing to serve, and continuing to be wonderful. One new piece that we are incorporating is case management, so we’ll continue our trainings around that.

In the next six months, I see us developing into an atmosphere that people are going to tell their friends about. When they want to recommend a place that is clean, that treats people like humans, and is encouraging, they’ll recommend ETS.

 

Can you recall a moment when your role has truly made a difference?

We had a patient who normally doesn’t respond to women very well. His case manager was a male, who always had a good rapport with him. But one day, the communication breakdown was extremely immense. I saw that the patient was irate, unhappy, and was ready to leave.

I knew that he had recently lost a very significant person in his life. So, when I walked up to him, I said, “When we’re grieving, there’s no explanation for why we act or do the things we do. If you’re having a bump in your recovery road, we need to address the triggers that lead to that. When you lose somebody that is a trigger.”

He stopped yelling and said, “I never even thought that one was associated with the other.” He knew he was hurting; however, he didn’t think that he was using again because he was hurting.

I didn’t even think it made a big difference. I went on with my day. Two days later, his counselor spoke with me and told me that I was the reason why this patient didn’t walk out of here and use that day. I had opened his eyes about why he was using substances again. That’s when I realized this is exactly where I need to be.

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