Dr. Ari Kalechstein
When the stay-at-home order was implemented in California in mid-March, Executive Mental Health (EMH) was faced with the challenge of how best to manage the unexpected changes associated with the pandemic so that we could continue to provide mental health care for our inpatients and outpatients. EMH chose to adapt to and overcome these obstacles, which were formidable, with the assistance of its partners, i.e., the staff members at acute and long-term care facilities. Some ten weeks later, we are pleased to report good news – the changes we have made together are working!
Together with our partner facilities, we launched TeleHealth, which enabled EMH clinicians to provide continued mental health care to residents and to maintain social distancing. In April and May, EMH completed almost 6,000 treatment sessions and assessments on behalf of outpatients and residents in close to 100 facilities throughout the State of California. This outcome was made possible due to the tireless effort and problem-solving skills of EMH community liaisons, clinicians and technical staff. During this time, we sourced HIPAA-approved teleconferencing programs, identified the hardware that would optimize the communication between patients and doctors while minimizing the likelihood of disease transmission, created a team of device technicians to transfer the hardware from patient to patient, and solved an array of technical problems that were encountered along the way. Moreover, when facilities made the decision to implement TeleHealth, the transition from decision to actual implementation often occurred in less than five business days.
EMH recognizes the fact that the pandemic and the interventions to limit the spread of COVID-19 have also affected the mental health of the residents’ families and facility staff. With that concern in mind, EMH will be offering these additional services to support the staff at our partner facilities in the coming months:
- Neuropsychology and clinical psychology for staff: Because healthcare workers are at-risk to experience depression and stress at this time, EMH will offer neuropsychology and clinical psychology services to the staff of our partner facilities
- Tele Family Care: For the families of residents, EMH clinicians can videoconference with them to ensure they remain current regarding the medical status of their loved ones, to communicate information from family members to the facility staff, and to lessen the workload on the care center’s staff
- Continuing education (CE) for staff: EMH will provide in-services and CE’s, some specific to COVID-19, at no charge to the facility
- Industry updates, research and analysis: Regular reports on the effects of COVID-19 on mental health, as well as recommendations from the Center for Medicare Studies and the CDC on best practices for mental health practitioners and SNF facilities, are available on www.EMHLA.com and LinkedIn
We thank all our partners for their support in ensuring the success of TeleHealth and offer our appreciation to the many Directors of Nursing and Social Services Directors who have worked tirelessly with us.
We are proud to partner with the SNF community to ensure that their residents receive quality mental health care through this situation and beyond. Please let us know how we can be of service to you!
Dr. Ari. Kalechstein
President and CEO