This month Clay Niles, our Operations Manager, joins us for an interview about his background in recovery, his road to Sovereign Health and where the Operations team is heading in the future. Clay discusses issues such as dealing with the past, improving care to patients and operating challenges that face a treatment center for dual diagnosis each and every day.
Q: What brought you to Sovereign Health?
A: The treatment industry is a small world here in Orange County and I have been blessed to work with many professionals in the past 18+ years, one of which is Marissa Maldonado. I gave Marissa my resume which was then forwarded to Dr. Sharma, and the interview process was started. In the process, I also interviewed with Ben Kaneaiakala, who is married to an MFT that I had the pleasure of working with in the past. I was offered an opportunity as Operations Manager, and started working at Sovereign in November, 2012.
Q: How did you enter the field of recovery/mental health as a whole?
A: In 1993, I entered into a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center in Cushing Oklahoma (Valley Hope), to address my own personal addiction. During a lecture on chemical dependency and the 4th step, my Case Manger was telling his story with no remorse no regret and a sense of confidence I had not seen before. I remember telling myself I wanted to be able to do that someday. After completing treatment, I moved to Southern California to pursue my recovery and a new life. I started in the field as a House Manager in 1996. I eventually enrolled in college to pursue my certification as a drug and alcohol abuse counselor. After completing the curriculum to obtain my certification and passing the state exam, I became one of the first Case Managers to work in California’s Prop 36 , a program that gave addicts the option for treatment in lieu of incarceration. I gained experience and knowledge by working my way from Case Manager to Program Director to Clinical Operations Manager before coming to Sovereign Health.
Q: What are some of your goals/ideas to help Sovereign succeed?
A: I have several goals to improve the quality of Sovereign’s success. In order for any company to succeed they need to have satisfied customers. The most important goal is to continually improve the quality of care to our patients from an operations stand point. Staff training, communication, scheduling, vehicle maintenance, and food services are just a few of the many ways to improve services provided to our clientele.
Q: What are some of the challenges facing you as Operations Manager? And how do you hope to overcome them?
A: This is a good question. Most people don’t understand all of the processes involved in running a large treatment center such as Sovereign Health. There are many behind the scene operations that are required and comprise the quality care that we deliver to our clientele on a daily basis. Several examples that are often overlooked are the proper maintenance and stocking of living areas, such as bathrooms and kitchens. It is important to provide quality living conditions in a social treatment arena for the patient to be able to feel comfortable and successful in their treatment. There are currently 29 bathrooms and 11 kitchens that all have potential for problems, and simply keeping those issues at bay is a success. We also have multiple vehicles that require regular maintenance and appropriate drivers to ensure the safe transportation of our patients. Our team consists of house managers, drivers and maintenance technicians all of whom work together to create the best and most importantly, safest experience possible. It’s not so much what I do but what we do as a team that makes Sovereign Health the organization that it is. So in answering the question, every day that I come to work is a challenge. Schedules change, vehicles need repair, patients need transportation, appliances serviced, along with the demands of new patients being admitted. Every day is different and brings new challenges to keeping the day to day operations running smoothly while not losing track of the goals that need to be met in the future.
Q: When you leave Sovereign Health, what’s the one thing you hope people will say about your time with us?
A: I would hope that people say that Sovereign Health was better because of the ideas and knowledge that I brought to the company.
Q: What looks like a successful time in recovery, in your opinion?
A: Recovery to me is more than just remaining drug free; however, drug free is the total essence of being able to change and that is the first step towards recovery. It’s about changing behavior, restoring shattered relationships, and becoming a responsible productive member of society; in other words, transforming from a place of uselessness to usefulness.