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Danny Interviews Drew Powers

March 13, 2019

Danny interviews Sandstone Care’s own Drew Powers about his work as the team’s Admissions and Business Development Manager for the Northeast. 

Danny Colella: Hey good morning everybody. Welcome. My name is Danny Colella and we are here with the Inspire and Empower Change Sandstone Care live series. Today, we have Drew Powers with us. Thanks for hanging out with us today, Drew.

Drew Powers: Thanks for having me, Danny.

Danny Colella: I understand you’re snowed in wherever you’re at now. There’s some serious snow happening. You’re going to have a nice day in to relax and get your things together, right?

Drew Powers: Something like that, yeah.

Danny Colella: I love that, man. Why don’t you share for everybody watching what’s your role within the organization here at Sandstone Care?

Drew Powers: I’m the Admissions and Business Development Manager. My responsibilities are overseeing and supporting the admissions team for all of our locations and then specifically the outreach and business development team in the Northeast.

Danny Colella: You’re in charge of not only the people that are picking up the phone and being that first line of contact, but also the people who are really out there pounding the pavement, making sure that the Sandstone message is getting delivered in the way that you want it to be delivered.

Drew Powers: Yes, our outreach team, we refer to them actually as clinical ambassadors. They are ambassadors of Sandstone Care, which we think accurately represents the job that they do, which is to represent us in the community and work with other professionals and share the brand.

Danny Colella: From what I know about you, you guys take that pretty seriously. What I love about the things I hear about you is you show up to every situation thinking how you can support somebody else, not what they can get from you, but what you can give to them. That’s really unique. A lot of people show up with that, “What can I get mentality?” You guys really embrace that, “How can we support you,” mentality which is unique. I love that.

Drew Powers: Yeah. For us, I think it just goes back to our number one core value as a company being ridiculously service oriented. How can we support other organizations, individuals, help them do better for other clients and support the industry as a whole.

Danny Colella: Fantastic, man. Way to be a leader behind all that. Why don’t we dig a little bit about into your way, why you do this work. From what I understand, you have a past history with … You’re in recovery. Is that what inspired you to go in this direction in this field?

Drew Powers: There are a few paths that I could probably be on, but for me, what resonates most is being a part of the journey that I’m on myself all the time. I’ve been working in the field in various capacities for about the last seven years and wanted to get exposure across all the different type of career paths, so counseling. I’ve done intervention work. I’ve worked in residential homes, admissions, outreach and now more supporting at a administrative level. I really enjoy this field, and I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to work in various capacities to learn what makes a great organization tick. That’s why obviously I’ve joined Sandstone and been working alongside with them as well.

Danny Colella: Love it. You have a unique opportunity to really help families and young adults who are struggling, who need help. From what I understand, your passion really lies in making sure that the level of service provided in our industry is at a high level. You know you can’t control everybody and every program, but what you love about here is that your standards for treatment are up here. Is that a big reason why you chose Sandstone Care?

Drew Powers: Yeah. There are so many reasons, but I think some of the most pertinent for me … Going through my own experience, I got sober at a young age. I was acutely aware of some of the differences between professional settings that either did or didn’t cater to an age-specific population. I think Sandstone Care, in the country, is probably one of the folks doing that best. I believe that we’re second to none when it comes to age-specific treatment for teens and young adults.

Drew Powers: With IOP, intensive outpatient, being the heartbeat of what Sandstone Care does, nobody else comes at treatment from that framework. It’s always top down from inpatient, medical detox, residential. Then outpatient is an afterthought in a lot of places in our industry right now. The way that we reversed that is so important and so forward thinking.

Drew Powers: For me, it really comes back to how we’re inspiring and empowering change for the industry is that we need to do better as an industry, providing intensive out-patient services that are comprehensive and will give folks the best possible outcomes. It’s a combination of those two things for me, Danny.

Danny Colella: I love that, man. I love that. I can tell you’ve got a real passion around what you do. I know that Sandstone Care is about having people with passion that want to inspire and empower that change. We heard a little bit about your background. You’ve been a little bit of everywhere. You’ve had a lot of great experience to see how things tick in a lot of different sides of this industry. That makes you really that full circle person to come here and take all the good stuff and all the bad stuff and say, “Hey, let’s work in this, right now.” That’s awesome, man. How do you uniquely serve your clients? What do you do to uniquely serve your clients when they come to you?

Drew Powers: The capacities that I interact with families and clients are really on the front end, either working with our outreach ambassador team or working with our admission teams. These are the most premature types of discussions and support that we can give to our family. They’re not in our services. They’re not a client of ours yet. We’re trying to do a lot of different things with that. We’re trying to do not only determine if this person could be a good fit and benefit from our program. We’re trying to help them understand and educate around what to look for in a center, what to look for in services.

Drew Powers: I think our admissions team, the focus is to provide a service for every single person that calls, right? Sometimes that service is, “We think you could be better served in another program. We think you could be better served in a different setting,” a different level of care, whatever it might be. Supporting them on that journey. We don’t use the word referral. We use the word warm transfer just because for us that means that we are transferring them with integrity to another provider, not just providing a phone number or something like that for them to go on their way. That’s the same as if they’re coming from assessment. If they ever do become a client of ours, we need to get them to a different type of setting.

Drew Powers: For me, it’s building the rapport and trust of the families and clients and the professionals we work with on the front end before anybody ever actually comes into our services. For me, that’s really, really exciting because it’s the most right that some of these families are in a lot of ways. They’re coming and they have expectations that maybe aren’t exactly what are in line with treatment or they’re hearing things from other providers that aren’t necessarily accurate and they’re being sold something that isn’t realistic. We do so much to educate and it’s so power to see how when you spend a little bit of time with a family and help them to just … You take time for them … how much can happen just over the phones and then small interactions. It’s really, really powerful for me.

Danny Colella: I love that. I love that you guys are so aware of your verbiage and the way you use your words and the fact that you need to change the word referral to warm transfer. I’m looking into things, but what I see is because you want that for your staff and the person involved to let them know this is different. You’re not just referring this family to somebody else. This is a warm transfer. You’re handing off another human being to somebody else that you’re saying to them, “You’re in good hands with this provider because we work with this provider. We know they provide great care and they’ll take great care of you.”

Danny Colella: Even very early on when we interviewed one of your admission girls, Priscilla, it’s just really passionate about those people that you guys refer to. You don’t just pick somebody out of thin air. These are relationships. These are people you get to know on a personal level to say, “Hey, take care of this person for me.” Then they honor that for you as well. That’s really cool, man. I love that. I love that verbiage. I’ve never heard that, warm transfer, but it makes so much sense. It helps inspire change in your own staff because they know this just isn’t a referral. This is a human that we need to take care of. I want to touch on something else you said. I’ve heard this multiple times through Sandstone Care is that you’re not going to necessarily be the best fit just because you’re the first phone call, right?

Drew Powers: Totally. Or the second or the third phone call. The reality is we want to be the place where teens and young adults go to get help, but that doesn’t mean that we’re going to help all of them through our treatment services. We can provide really, really, really important information and education on the front end that they’re not getting anywhere else. I think as an industry, we need to take time to think about what it’s like for a family to try and find treatment today and be realistic about that. How do they do that? How many people are going to their neighbors and friends and saying, “Hey, have you ever had anybody struggle? What works for them?” Probably 1%. I don’t know the statistics, but it’s [crosstalk 00:10:03].

Danny Colella: I’d agree with that for sure.

Drew Powers: They’re going online. They’re doing what anybody would do to find out information about something they don’t know, and they’re being lied to on the internet in a big way by many people. The resources that they find on the first page of Google aren’t always good, aren’t always accurate and aren’t always there to help them get the right help. It’s just self-serving information.

Drew Powers: Part of that for me is really important and a lot of the other types of professional organizations that I participate in, we work really closely with NATAP and organizations that value ethics on the marketing side of things. That’s another language choice that we make. We don’t refer to anything as sales. This isn’t … We’re talking like you said. We’re working with humans and just because somebody calls our phone … This isn’t a sales lead that we’re trying to convert. This is a human we’re trying to serve and be of service to. We have to be able to really not only be realistic about what our “industry” is today, but how we can come back and do things better for the people reaching out. That’s a big challenge. It’s a big challenge.

Danny Colella: It’s a big challenge and it’s an honor. I love that you feel that way. It’s an honor for somebody to reach out to you, to be that first line, that first call. They’re putting a lot of trust in the people they pick up the phone up to call. It’s an honor to be that first call. It’s an honor to really allow that person to start to build trust with you. I love that you take that responsibility so seriously because it is serious and I agree with you. They’re just trying to go online and figure out where they want to go. Even if somebody’s watching this and they do want more information, they do want to figure out how to get in touch with somebody, how to have a conversation, how to just open that can of worms and pick up that 10,000-pound phone and say, “A little bit of support, please, a little bit of help,” how does somebody get in contact with you or Sandstone Care to do that?

Drew Powers: Our team, it’s really important for us. We’ve grown a lot over even the last 12 months to be able to support admission-related calls or support calls seven days a week. We’re not 24/7, but if you call at 3:00 in the morning, you will speak to somebody. They’ll get a message to our team. We’re staffed seven days a week to be able to support folks, to be able to get them in a good direction and be able to do that in a timely manner.

Drew Powers: Our website obviously is a great resource. We want that to be a resource as well, not just pretty pictures. There’s contents on there that should because helpful for people whether it’s our blog or the actual pages around what we do. It’s not just selling what we do. It’s providing meaningful content to learn about what treatment can look like for your individual. We have wonderful videos on there with our team talking about the different services. That’s a great resource. If you want to talk to somebody live, give us a call. We have the admissions team. If you know one of our outreach ambassadors, they’re a wonderful resource, giving them a call. We have that available the seven days a week. We want to be able to support over time more and more to get to that point where we can really be that resource that people are … We’re synonymous with, “My teen is struggling. I need help. I’ll call Sandstone.”

Danny Colella: I love it. Again, as we wrap this up, I just want to help you clarify that Sandstone Care is the best age-specific treatment. You guys stay in your niche. You know the people you can help the greatest and you stay there just so that you can make sure that population gets the best quality of care that they can possibly get. That’s awesome, man. I love it. I love to see people just do what makes sense and be the best at what they do and it’s apparent that you guys strive to be the best for that population that’s struggling and needs help.

Drew Powers: Yeah.

Danny Colella: The last question I normally ask is how you inspire and empower change in the industry. I think you’ve answered a lot of that as far as the standards that you hold for this industry, but anything else you want to add at the end on a unique way you still inspire and empower change in the industry?

Drew Powers: Yeah, I think we have to, as an organization, start really reaching out and talking with other organizations at a real level. This is probably a stereotype, but in a large way, we’ve very competitive as an industry because we’re so young as an industry. Even industry is probably a more favorable word than what we could call the loose connection between the behavioral health, specifically substance use treatment providers in the country.

Drew Powers: If we don’t start advocating for ourselves together and start in a lot of ways calling each other on things, we’re going to be in big trouble. I think we’ve seen that in the not too recent past what can happen. I’m a large part of working not only on the marketing ethics side in our region, in the DC Metro area, we have organizations that we’ve started to be able to try and raise the bar as far as … And provide real true professional development for people working in those outreach and admissions roles. The reality is, Danny, that there is no pre-qualifying education degree or there is no training necessarily for you to go out and say, “Hey, I represent a treatment center. Here’s what we do.”

Drew Powers: There’s no accountability either. There’s no accountability for somebody that says, “Yeah, we’re the best treatment center in the world,” when they’re talking to a family. Our success rate is 95%. There’s no way that anybody can challenge somebody on that outside of us doing it internally in our industry. That’s so important to me because that over time is what’s going to give our industry the value to be able to be really viewed as what is right now killing more Americans than anything else and being able to provide treatment for a very, very important condition.

Drew Powers: Mental health and substance use are not only personally important to me, but we have to argue better. You’re such a large part of that as well. Bringing this information out there to reach the masses is so cool. We need more of that. We have to have people coming out of the shadows and talking about this as families and friends in the community. Other chronic illnesses, we ask for help from our peers. We don’t do that with this issue.

Danny Colella: No, an intense amount of stigma. That’s what we’re fighting. As much as we like to say it’s okay to not be okay, it’s not okay to not be okay. Most people feel that way and they’re struggling. That’s why a large percentage of Americans just struggle and never ask for help. I agree with you. It’s about this stuff. We don’t do this just because we want to make us look good. We do this because we want to put information in front of people where they can see it and they can learn at their pace. If somebody’s watching right now and they’re struggling and they’re either a teen or a family member and they get to see this and feel like, “Okay, I’m not alone and I can reach out for help,” then Drew we did what we were supposed to do.

Drew Powers: Totally.

Danny Colella: We did what we were supposed to do.

Drew Powers: 100%.

Danny Colella: Yeah. Cool man. Thanks for spending time with me today. It was great to communicate with you and really get out all this great info and how you inspired and empower change in the industry. Thanks so much. If you guys want to find out more about Sandstone Care, you can visit SandstoneCare.com to get more resources, find more information, learn and eventually, when you’re ready, get in touch with somebody that will honor you and take care of you as somebody who is experiencing some struggle and some pain. Thanks again, Drew. Really appreciate you spending time with me today. Enjoy the rest of your morning, my friend.

Drew Powers: Thank you, Danny. You as well.

Danny Colella: All right, man. Bye bye.


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