You might walk past them on the street and never know Robert Johnson and Sundae Maas are modern-day heroes. Quiet and unassuming, Robert could be a college professor, with his close-cropped gray hair, the button-down collar shirt and narrow, black-framed glasses. Sundae has the “rock star,” personality, with her blonde hair, big smile and fashionable tastes. But, different as they are, Robert and Sundae share their passion and love in fighting the opioid epidemic, while tirelessly helping others.
In long-term recovery themselves, both are Recovery Coaches with HNV’s Project ASSERT, Sundae stationed in the emergency room at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ypsilanti, and Robert at the Psychiatric Emergency Room at University of Michigan Hospital. The mission? To interface with patients who have either had an overdose or suffer from the chronic medical illness of substance use disorder.
Robert and Sundae introduce the patients to recovery options and services they might need, such as admission to HNV’s Engagement Center, for crisis intervention. Most importantly, Robert and Sundae listen–to their stories and their needs, often acting as a bridge between the patients and the treatment providers. The goal is to gently coax a patient into taking the first unsteady steps into recovery!
In the last three and a half months, Sundae saw 273 patients at St. Joe’s. During the past year, Robert saw 242 patients at UM’s Psychiatric Emergency Room, another milestone for Project ASSERT! Home of New Vision offers other Recovery Coach services as well, and has many state-certified coaches on staff.