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Maine Behavioral Healthcare
  Spring Harbor Hospital News

Joan Houghton Honored with Governor's Exemplary Service Award

April 28, 2009- Joan Houghton of Yarmouth was honored by Governor John Baldacci this morning as a recipient of the Governor's Exemplary Service Award.

Dennis King, chief executive officer of Spring Harbor Hospital, echoed the Governor's recognition and characterized Joan as "an absolute gem….whose main mission in life is to improve the lives of those vulnerable individuals who are struggling to recover from mental illness and other emotional distress."
 l-r: Joan Houghton, SHH Board of Trustee; Governor Baldacci, Ric Hanley, COO

Since 1999, Ms. Houghton has served on
the Board of Trustees of Spring Harbor Hospital and is a member of the Board's Performance Improvement Committee. Spring Harbor Hospital is a 100-bed psychiatric facility that serves more than 2,500 inpatients each year, and is part of a network that provides 60,000 outpatient visits annually.
Ms. Houghton played an integral role in shaping the design and construction of the new hospital that was opened in March 2004.  Throughout the design development process hers was a constant voice reminding that the hospital should be constructed with patients' well-being and safety as an uppermost consideration.  She helped with selection of interior design features that proved to be very soothing and therapeutic for the more than 10,000 patients served by Spring Harbor Hospital since its opening.  During her tenure on the board, Spring Harbor Hospital has served well over 20,000 patients.

A passionate advocate for the rights of those suffering from serious mental illness, Ms. Houghton truly understands the delicate balance between the right to receive treatment, and the right to refuse.  Her focus is consistently on what is in the best interest of the individual, while she advocates for fair and high quality treatment for all.

Ms. Houghton has served for 9 years on the Governor's Mental Health Advisory Council, including 2 years as Vice-Chair and 2 years as Chair.  This group was largely responsible for prioritizing the numerous mental health bills that came before the legislature.

In addition to her work with mental health, Ms. Houghton continues to volunteer for the Junior League of Portland, of which she has been a member for 30 years.  She is a long-time church volunteer, teaching religious education classes, serving on governing councils, doing nursing home outreach, and supporting refugee resettlement; she has worked with the Cumberland school district as an anti-drug facilitator; serves on the Cumberland County Human Services Board; serves as a board member and legislative liaison for the Mental Health Association of Cumberland County; and is a member of  the Women's Committee of the Portland Symphony Orchestra.

Ric Hanley, chief operating officer at Spring Harbor Hospital who nominated her for the award shares, "If there were more than 168 hours in a week, Joan would find a way to fill them with service to others. If you ask Joan what she does for work, she will probably tell you that she is "a professional advocate. Technically, she may retain "amateur" status as an unpaid volunteer, but Joan is a consummate professional in everything that she does.  Every person whom she encounters in her volunteer life, as well as every facet of her life, is greeted with enthusiasm, respect, and dignity."

Joan will never know all the people her life's work of volunteerism has touched, but that's not her raison d'être.  Besides, she moves too fast for pats on the back.

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