Alert: COVID-19 and Telehealth Services
Updated: Aug 14, 2020
Hello everyone. I wanted to get a message out there related to all that we’re currently experiencing. Lillybrook Counseling Services is concerned about your physical and mental health concerning COVID-19 (Coronavirus). I am going to start by explaining our response as an organization to the threat of COVID-19, but I also want to address some of the emotional and distress related concerns that each one of us are having. This will probably be a longer read than I normally post. We would like each person to be as prepared as possible during these unprecedented times.
First, we want to acknowledge the severity of the pandemic and we recognize the physical, medical, and economic nightmare this has become for so many families, each one of us included. In addressing the medical concerns and the spread of the virus we ask that you contact the State of MI COVID-19 Hotline (888)535-6136 or the Beaumont Hospital COVID-19 hotline (800)-592-4784 if:
1. You have symptoms related to the virus including:
c. Sore throat
d. Shortness of breath
Further it is highly recommended that you self-quarantine if:
1. You have been exposed to anyone with the above symptoms and have not yet completed a 14-day quarantine.
2. You have been traveling internationally or domestically and have not yet completed a 14-day quarantine.
3. You have been to any of the known locations documented by the county health departments or the state of Michigan to have had exposure to the virus.
All cancellations related to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) will not be subject to the no show/late cancellation policy. All other polices remain in place.
The main response that we have had as a nation in response to COVID-19 is through social distancing or many have been place under quarantine out of caution, even if it is unlikely that they have contracted the virus. This continues to be a growing experience in Michigan as the virus continues to spread. At this time, we urge you to follow the recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) which include:
· Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
· Stay home when you are sick.
· Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
· Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
o If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
It is best to obtain your information about COVID-19, and how to stay safe, from reliable sources, such as the Center for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov) and the World Health Organization (www.who.int/en), or from the Attorney General’s office at Coronavirus.gov. At this time the data suggests that this virus is going to continue to spread which would jeopardize the health and safety of everyone that interacts within the offices of Lillybrook Counseling Services.
In order to protect the health and safety of everyone that relies on us as people and as an organization, as well as the health and safety of our clients and their families, I have made the decision that starting Monday March 23, 2020 services from Lillybrook will be offered via telehealth sessions only until further notice. Our hope is that this is a small and very short-term disruption in face-to-face services which is the ideal means for therapeutic interventions and what we will return to as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.
Telehealth refers to providing therapy or other health care services via a secure video system. While this is not the same as face-to-face therapy, it can be a way for you to continue therapy during times when one party is required to stay home. Lillybrook will be utilizing Hangouts Meet through G Suite, a product of Google which is private, secure, and HIPAA compliant. This means that Hangouts Meet meets the privacy standards for Protected Health Information (PHI). Your insurance may cover Telehealth, and some, due to the current national crisis, are now offering phone sessions. This is a rapidly changing situation and many insurance companies are making changes to their policies to address concerns related to the virus. We ask that you familiarize yourself with your benefits and we will do the same to ensure that you have covered benefits.
Lillybrook and its staff will make every effort to ensure that your TeleHealth sessions are a covered expense by your insurance company, however, it is your responsibility to confirm and understand this with your insurance company. Any service or fee not covered by insurance is the responsibility of the client to pay.
If your insurance does not cover this benefit, you and your therapist can discuss possible alternatives. Additionally, if you have not already signed a Telehealth consent, you will need to sign a Telehealth consent in advance. As long as you are physically located in Michigan at the time the session occurs, your therapist can use Telehealth to provide services. Due to practice laws in the state of Michigan, therapists cannot practice Telehealth if you are not physically located in a state where they are licensed, including a brief visit to another state. If you have questions or concerns about Telehealth, please discuss it with your therapist.
I personally apologize for any inconveniences experienced as part of this decision but please know I have made it in hopes that we can slow the spread and keep each and every one of us safe during this incomprehensible time.
Now, that being said, we here at Lillybrook are aware of the many concerns during this time because we are living through them with you. It is a rare occurrence that therapist and client would be simultaneously sharing in the same experience. Just another unprecedented circumstance related to COVID-19.
Never in my life have I seen such a disruption in day to day life on such a large scale. The magnitude of all of this truly will only be understood in hindsight. So many people from so many walks of life have been severely impacted. I’m sure the data will come out later related to the increase in trauma and trauma related experiences because of the social, emotional, and economic devastation of COVID-19. In relationship to children, here is an article the details some strategies for working through all of this with them https://starr.org/covid-19-school-cancellation-and-trauma/. Give it a read of you and/or your children are struggling to talk about what is currently happening in the world.
In addition to trauma, anxiety and depression are going to be ever present during this time as well as during the recovery. I have already spoken with many people who are struggling to keep their anxiety in check. With so much uncertainty and so much fear presented through the data and the media it’s hard to avoid the anxiety and depression that comes with it.
As therapists we are here. We are talking about this with you. We are learning from you and learning with you. Though social distancing is a must, our togetherness is going to be the driving force of our recovery. Do not be afraid to reach out (via video chat 😊) to friends and family and talk about this with them. Also, don’t be afraid to take a break from the vast consumption of constantly and rapidly changing news and information. The overload of information made possible by all the wonderful technology we possess also contributes to a flooding of fear and negativity that one can only handle for so long.
As we are stuck at home and our kids are not going to school, take some time to reconnect as a family. I know I have complained many times of all the different invasions one family may have. We don’t have that many right now. I encourage you to play some board games, read some books, make some family videos, and/or teach some life skills (children doing chores…they’ll never fight against that). In what is clearly the strangest set of circumstances I have lived through we would all benefit from creating some happy memories.
I know this is way more challenging for some families than it is for others. Trying to work from home while also becoming a teacher and still being a husband, wife, mom, dad and any other hat one must wear is a uniquely challenging juggling act that I promise we will all fail at to some extent. Too many hats to wear. But that’s okay. Take it in stride and offer yourself some forgiveness.
In a time when a lot of our coping skills are unavailable (e.g. the gym, coffee shops, the mall, the spa, etc.) we must make a very purposeful effort to maintain our self-care and coping. I challenge you all to use your creativity and problem-solving skills to adapt to the current circumstances and continue to access your coping skills. And if you’re really struggling please reach out so that we, your therapists, can walk you through. Don’t forget your mindfulness, your relaxation, grounding, or meditation. We can still do yoga and deep breathing. We can still establish time management. And if you’re like me, you can still it milk and cookies…even if your wife hands them out as rations.
Our motto states “In times of struggle, we are here.” That has not changed. Though we may not meet in the office we remain committed to providing services to each and everyone of our clients. Stay safe everyone. Let us know if you need anything.