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St. Charles inpatient team

Rae Andrews

Rae Andrews

Alumni Coordinator for St. Charles

Rae graduated in 2012 from Mercyhurst University with a bachelor’s degree in social work and a minor in criminal justice. As a full-time student, she also worked full-time at a MAT clinic where she was promoted to an MAT counselor and held that position for several years. Since then, she has worked in the drug and alcohol field as a drug and alcohol counselor at various agencies including a women’s state prison and on a drug court team. Rae also spent time in the mental health field serving as a case manager assisting with crisis intervention as well as reintegrating people back into daily living from residential. In April 2022, Rae joined the Alumni Team at RCA putting her passion for helping individuals with substance use disorder not only find recovery, but love life in recovery. In her personal time, Rae enjoys playing basketball, hockey, fishing, hiking, doing puzzles, and anything involving Star Wars.
In your opinion, why do you believe an alumni program is so important for those who want to achieve long term recovery?

I believe an alumni program is important for long term recovery because it helps cultivate those long-term relationships with sober friends doing sober activities that can be difficult to find and achieve. We want to give people safe places to go and have safe activities to do with people they feel close to and can build long lasting supportive relationships with, and alumni program helps you achieve all of that.

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What is your favorite quote, and why?

“You have seen my decent, now watch my rising” – Rumi. This is my favorite quote because it delivers a powerful message – no matter how much we’ve been through, no matter what we have come from we can still rise, we can still overcome.

What are the major driving forces in your life?

The major driving forces in my life are the people that are personally affected by addiction as well as my personal drive to want to eliminate deaths from overdose. Addiction has personally affected those very close to me and unfortunately, I have lost loved ones. So, if there was ever a reason to get up every morning, this is mine – to fight to end overdose and to bring awareness to addiction and the disease. Another driving force is my determination. Coming from so little, to be here today means a great deal to me.

If you could send a message to family, friends and loved ones of those with a substance use disorder, what would it be?

Have patience, be kind, be mindful, ask for help, and educate yourself on the disease of addiction. Having an understanding of substance use disorder will allow you to better understand your loved ones and the struggles they are going through.

Why do you choose to work as an Alumni Coordinator for RCA?

I chose to work as an Alumni Coordinator for RCA because I wanted to assist in building those lasting relationships in recovery. I wanted to know what happens after inpatient and see where I could make a difference in building a safe and stable recovery network for people.

Katie Andersen

Katie Andersen

Interventionist

Katie Andersen is a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) and a Certified Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Counselor (CADC) She has spent over 10 years in mental health and addiction industry. Katie graduated from Aurora University with a Master’s degree in Social Work. Her passion for athletics and wellness led her to work in collegiate athletics and coaching prior to entering into the mental health and addiction field. Katie’s compassion and caring nature for helping individuals and families struggling with mental health and/or addiction lead her to the intervention team at Recovery Centers of America. The presents of addiction within her own family system motivates her to continue educating families about the disease of addiction. Her goal is to coach families to understand that recovery is possible and they can calm the noise and chaos of their loved ones addiction.

Karen Wolownik Albert

Karen Wolownik Albert

Chief Executive Officer, RCA at St. Charles

Karen Wolownik Albert, LCSW joins RCA with over 20 years of experience in progressive behavioral health leadership. As a frequent public speaker and advisor regarding local, state, and federal behavioral health issues and initiatives, she is also a subject matter expert on in substance use issues and treatment, juvenile justice and child welfare, therapeutic intervention, and case management.

Karen was the recipient of the 2018 Dr. C. Vincent Bakeman Memorial Award presented by the Illinois Association for Behavioral Health for her work in connecting patients to treatment and improving the system of care for persons struggling with Substance Use Disorder. Karen serves on the Board of Directors of the Lake County Opioid Initiative and Live4Lali.  She worked on the core team of Task Force members in the development and launch of the nationally recognized A Way Out Program, a law enforcement deflection program for persons seeking Substance Use Disorder treatment.

She looks forward to expanding addiction treatment in Illinois and continuing RCA’s mission of saving one million lives, one neighborhood at a time.

Scott Browning

Scott Browning

Alumni Coordinator at St. Charles

If you would like to get in contact with Scott regarding alumni volunteer opportunities, events, or meetings for RCA at St. Charles, please email sbrowning@recoverycoa.com

Scott Browning serves Recovery Centers of America as the Alumni Coordinator for our treatment center in St. Charles, Illinois. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature with an Emphasis in Creative Writing. Currently, he is continuing his education to become a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor before transitioning into Master’s Coursework for either Art or Recreation Therapy. His passion for helping those who struggle with the disease of addiction makes him an asset to the Alumni Team and the patients at St. Charles.

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Why do you choose to work as an Alumni Coordinator for RCA?

I chose to apply for the Alumni Coordinator because when I worked as an RSS, my favorite part of the position was getting to run groups and helping our patients figure out what their personal recovery was going to look like, but once they left treatment, I had to say goodbye. The Alumni Coordinator position now allows me to stay in contact with the patients that I created connections with during their inpatient stay and continue to provide guidance as they pursue a recovery-focused lifestyle.

What do you enjoy most about the work that you do?

I really enjoy group work. Helping other people realize their potential and the ways in which they were hiding it is so rewarding. I also love seeing the dichotomy between who a person is during active addiction and the first few days of detox versus who they become once they discover a life in recovery, figure out who they want to be moving forward.

What is your favorite quote, and why?

“Change poison into medicine.” – Nagarjuna. This quote embodies what I want each of our patients to do: take the poison they have built up inside, the poison life has dealt them, and turn it into medicine to help themselves and others.

What are the major driving forces in your life?

I am driven by the desire to help others, improve myself, and overcome struggles. I want to be the best son, husband, and friend I possibly can.

If you could send a message to family, friends and loved ones of those with a substance use disorder, what would it be?

This disease, if treated properly, can be an asset. Individuals who experience difficulty in their lives are hardened by it, but once they’re able to overcome it, they become better, more empathetic humans beings because of it. The struggle is a necessary piece of a worldly individual, and with it we can understand the struggle of others. We help ourselves most by helping others. If we choose, the negatives we experience can be used for the greater good as a means of improving our own lives and inner strength, as well as show others recovery is possible and leads to an improved version of the life you thought you lost when you started using.

Dr. Stephen Holtsford

Dr. Stephen Holtsford

Medical Director

Dr. Holtsford holds an MD from the University of Illinois-Chicago, where he also completed a residency in emergency and internal medicine (EM/IM). In addition to his EM/IM board certification, he has been board certified in addiction medicine since 2019.

As Medical Director at RCA, Dr. Holtsford oversees the medical care of patients, including withdrawal management, chronic medical conditions and any other medical issues that arise during their stay at RCA.

Dr. Holtsford’s interest in addiction treatment and advocacy comes from his time as an ER physician, witnessing the ravages of drugs and alcohol on people in the community. Since obtaining board certification in addiction medicine, he also trains other providers, advocates for better care of OUD patients in the ER and works toward getting care to patients in the criminal justice system.

Prior to RCA, Dr. Holtsford was a full-time ER Physician. He continues to hold positions as a part-time ER physician at Northwestern Delnor Hospital in Geneva; the Medical Director of Lighthouse Recovery, an outpatient SUD clinic in St. Charles; the Illinois Medical Director of Bright Heart Health, an OUD treatment provider via telemedicine; as well as a member of the Kane County Opioid Task Force.

Mark Zissman

Mark Zissman

Clinical Director

Dr. Mark Zissman is a licensed clinical psychologist and joined Recovery Centers of America at St. Charles in August of 2020. Dr. Zissman has over 10 years of experience working in various clinical and leadership positions in the field of addictions, in both inpatient and outpatient settings. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Northern Illinois University, and completed his graduate training at Adler University, where he earned a Master’s Degree in Counseling and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. Dr. Zissman’s professional interests include the treatment of co-occurring disorders, as well as the integration of evidence-based treatment and recovery practices. He feels particularly passionate about helping individuals discover their own unique motivations for creating lasting change.

Bridget Martinez

Bridget Martinez

Director of Admissions & UR

I began my career in the health care insurance industry 13 years ago as an access specialist at a level one trauma facility in the Chicago Land Area. From there, I obtained my Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology at Benedictine University in 2012 and have worked as a Utilization review coordinator, crisis admission counselor, clinical therapist, and care advisor. I have a vast knowledge in Medicaid, Medicare and commercial insurance policies. I am passionate about advocating for my patients and believe that everyone should be afforded the opportunity of recovery.

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