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Dr. Maloney makes it her life mission to help people overcome substance use

01/18/23 11:00:am

Capture.JPGMichelle Maloney, PhD, system executive clinical director of Addiction Services, has a decades-long dedication to helping people overcome substance use.

“I joined the Army when I was 17,” Dr. Maloney says. “I was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in politics. After my work in the Army, I attended the Pennsylvania State Police Academy and saw how many people were being incarcerated as a result of substance use. Simultaneously, I blew out my knee, so I had to rethink my entire career choice.”

Dr. Maloney started with a substance use organization in a role similar to a residential care specialist. She went back to school to become a licensed counselor (LPC for mental health and CAADAC for substance use) and has been working in the behavioral health field for the past 30 years.

“I’m very passionate about treating people with substance use,” she says. “I think what I find most rewarding from a patient and family perspective is how much progress a person can make. Some come in homeless or with health issues and when they leave, they’re almost like a new person. I can remember a patient I treated who was 80 in a wheelchair with muscle atrophy. After about three months in treatment, she left able to walk.”

Previously regional vice president of operations for Sunspire Health, Dr. Maloney has been with Rogers for nearly five years.

“I had referred patients to Rogers,” she says. “When I decided to move from operations back to clinical, I wanted to be part of a quality organization. I really like that Rogers has the various levels of care and we can watch patients make significant progress, from withdrawal management to living a full life. It’s amazing to watch the individual growth and see families come back together again.”

Dr. Maloney recently led a team in a large undertaking to ensure that Naloxone is available in all of our programs throughout the System, overcoming multiple unexpected barriers. In November, this critical medication was used in Brown Deer and saved a life.

She says one thing most people don’t know about her is she has her PhD in corporate leadership.

“I learned the importance of servant leadership, in addition to compassion, kindness, and accountability,” she says. “I want to have the most impact on patients and families, and I do that through mentoring employees as well as advocacy. Right now, I work with and supervise about 60 people. Watching them grow in their own careers and develop their passions is very fulfilling.”

Additionally, she writes policies and procedures to ensure compliance, as well as protocols, including eight workbooks thus far. She is working to get substance use licenses in every state where Rogers operates to offer Mental Health and Addiction Recovery treatment, and she participates in substance use research, such as a recent study with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on contingency management.

Dr. Maloney is dedicated to the behavioral health field and “moving it forward,” currently serving on the Addiction Treatment Quality Committee for the National Association for Behavioral Healthcare. She also just completed a term as president of the Wisconsin International Certification and Reciprocity Certification (ICRC) chapter, in addition to a term on the Pennsylvania ICRC board.

Throughout her career, Dr. Maloney has made several television appearances, including on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Anderson Cooper, and an episode of Intervention on A&E.

“We were doing an intervention for a young adult in Salt Lake City, Utah,” she says. “The individual was very ill but refused treatment and left. We switched our focus to the dad and were able to get him into a residential family treatment program. The stress of the young adult using substances was causing the dad health issues. We were grateful to have been able to help him.”

Offering loved ones support and education through the family program is one of the things Dr. Maloney is proud to see Rogers doing, in addition to training employees.

“I’m excited that we offer education so employees can acquire their substance use credentials through our organization,” she says. “We currently offer the supervisor academy in-house and we’re just waiting on state approval to offer the full substance use credential.”

With so many accomplishments, Dr. Maloney has a goal she would like to help the behavioral health field achieve.

“My desire is to eliminate stigma so we no longer stereotype substance use patients,” she says. “Substance use is treatable and afflicts people of all socioeconomic levels, races, nationalities, and educational levels. Many times, when someone thinks of a person who uses substances, they think of a homeless person. But that isn’t necessarily the face of substance use – it’s our next-door neighbor, a CEO, a celebrity.”

Getting to know Dr. Maloney

Image.jpegDr. Maloney has been married to her husband, Edward, for 13 years. Their son, James, is a biochemist for a pharmaceutical company. They currently have one “baby girl,” their dog, Summer, who is a rescue from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

Dr. Maloney and Edward are diehard “Parrot Heads.” They enjoy Jimmy Buffett music and concerts so much that they moved into a retirement community in Florida called “Margaritaville.” She says they are living a laid-back life like a Buffett song. One of her favorite things about the community is the focus on charity.

“For last year’s holiday party, we all brought donations for Toys for Tots and filled two U-Haul trucks.”

Dr. Maloney holds a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license and was on the radio from 10 pm to 1 am for three years on 88YCR in York, Pennsylvania. Her on-air name was “Manic Mickey.”

“Sometimes the nickname for Michelle is Mickey,” she explains. “You really have to exude personality at that time of night, so combined with the song, ‘Mickey’ that was popular at the time, and that’s how I got to be known as ‘Manic Mickey.’”

Dr. Maloney loves to travel, with Cuba and Egypt her favorite places because she is fascinated with the history. This spring, Dr. Maloney and Edward will be taking their son and his girlfriend on a Mediterranean cruise to Italy, Greece, and Croatia.

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