Washburn Center for Children Adopting telehealth with help from Medica

Medica reports

Medica today announced it would allocate $1 million in emergency donations among 18 Minnesota non-profit organizations that play important roles in addressing health needs of the most vulnerable people in communities statewide, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Funding is being made available through the Medica Foundation.

At least one donation went to telehealth…

Washburn Center for Children [in Minneapolis] will receive $100,000 to advance their telehealth capabilities and meet the urgent mental health needs for children with social, emotional and behavioral problems, and their families.

“Washburn is committed to ensuring access to mental health care for children and families during this unparalleled time,” said Tom Steinmetz, CEO, Washburn Center for Children. “We are grateful for Medica’s emergency response support that will equip our 165 therapists with telehealth tools to connect with families and deliver critical therapies. We are singularly focused on the well-being of children and families we serve and Medica is vital in helping us adapt quickly to meet those needs.”

RiverView Health In Crookston implements telehealth (Polk County)

Crookston Times reports…

During this time of uncertainty, RiverView Health is taking every precaution to protect its patients and staff regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Telehealth, or video visits, are now offered, when applicable, for patients with chronic conditions and other needs who are able to receive care without visiting a clinic.

Most RiverView providers are now available via telehealth for the following appointments:

  • Follow-ups/rechecks
  • Medication check-in/refills
  • Test results
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Establish care, with limitations of a physical exam

If you already have an appointment for one of the reasons above, you will receive a call from a patient access representative to determine if a telehealth visit is feasible. Most insurance providers have extended coverage to telehealth visits, including Medicare, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Minnesota, United Healthcare/UMR, and Humana. Your patient access representative can help you determine if your insurance will cover a telehealth visit.

EVENT Mar 30: Human Services’ Calls with the Governor’s Office

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Reports

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, in conjunction with the office of Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, is pleased to host a series of four weekly Calls with Governor’s Office featuring updates for nonprofits on Minnesota’s response to COVID-19.
The Governor’s office values the state’s nonprofit partners and would like to easily give information as news is breaking in this changing environment. Each free virtual chat will take place over the next four Mondays from 11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. and will feature Gov. Walz, Lt. Gov. Flanagan, or both.
The first call will focus on information for, and questions from, nonprofits in the human services sectors. Visit MCN’s event page in the coming weeks for information on future calls.

On the face of it, this isn’t necessarily broadband-related, unless of course you had questions about the inequity of broadband connectivity in rural areas impacting ability to access government services or adhere to sheltering in place executive order.

Minnesota is looking to telehealth to support mental health during coronavirus quarantine

Keeping mentally healthy is a challenge and noble goal in these days of sheltering in place. Both the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Post Bulletin (via Duluth News Tribune) are highlighting what people are doing to keep healthy around the state.

A Star Tribune article reports

As one way to adjust, Valkyrie started the Minnesota Mutual Support group on Facebook earlier this week to help people stay connected to resources and to each other. More than 600 have already joined.

“I don’t have access to my normal support,” Valkyrie said. “It’s been reaching out a lot online, to be honest, and helping others. And creating that group actually helps my mental health quite a bit.”

And more formal recommendations to find support online…

Mental health providers are also scrambling statewide to triage care and treatment for patients as the pandemic continues. They are directing patients to telehealth counseling and fielding calls from patients unsure if they should still go to therapy in person. Providers are working to keep their employees safe and reassured, but some have considered laying off staff they cannot afford to pay.

The coronavirus crisis has also put Minnesota’s shortage of mental health services on display. Even as providers urge clients to move to telehealth services, they acknowledge that not every household has internet, a computer or a smartphone. And a remote counseling session won’t necessarily have the same benefit as an in-person session for a patient.

Clinics are embracing technology to provide services…

One clinic has given laptops to clients for telehealth services. Another is working on YouTube videos to share with clients and staff on breathing and self-soothing resources. But all three said they continue to tell Minnesotans who need help the same thing: Keep calling

The Duluth New Tribune talks about what’s happening in Rochester (MN)…

On Thursday, March 18, Family Service Rochester announced the launch of new telehealth counseling services. The services are available for new and existing patients. Counseling sessions can be provided via internet connection on a smartphone, tablet or computer. The process, which is all completed from one’s home, starts with a phone call and completing a few online forms before the patient is scheduled to talk with a mental health professional.

And offers some pandemic mental health advice to tech users…

Stay connected but also disconnected, Sawchuk recommends. Staying connected to social support is incredibly helpful and therapeutic during difficult times, he said. With modern technology, it is easy to reach out to someone but it is important to make sure that those people you may be reaching out to bring you up, rather than down.

US Dep of Health and Human Services Awards $100 million to health centers – in part for telehealth

The Department of Health and Human Services announces…

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), awarded $100 million to 1,381 health centers across the country with funding provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020.  HRSA-funded health centers may use the awards to address screening and testing needs, acquire medical supplies and boost telehealth capacity in response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

On Friday, March 6, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020, which provides $8.3 billion in emergency funding for federal agencies to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, including $100 million for HRSA-funded health centers. Recognizing the urgency of the situation, and the important role health centers play in communities nationwide, HHS is making this funding for health centers available immediately.

Family Service Rochester opens telehealth door for therapy

The Brainerd Dispatch reports…

On Thursday, March 18, Family Service Rochester announced the launch of new telehealth counseling services. The services are available for new and existing patients. Counseling sessions can be provided via internet connection on a smartphone, tablet or computer. The process, which is all completed from one’s home, starts with a phone call and completing a few online forms before the patient is scheduled to talk with a mental health professional.

Ashleigh H. Dowis, director of clinical services for Family Service Rochester, said last week that the organization hadn’t seen a great influx of new clients but the new service may allow for more people to feel comfortable accessing counseling.

They also touch upon the impact of the online world on the pandemic…

Stay connected but also disconnected, Sawchuk recommends. Staying connected to social support is incredibly helpful and therapeutic during difficult times, he said. With modern technology, it is easy to reach out to someone but it is important to make sure that those people you may be reaching out to bring you up, rather than down.

“It is OK to disengage from watching, reading, listening to news and news stories about the coronavirus,” Kinsella said. “If you are inundated with that, it can create a secondary traumatic stress.”

Both Kinsella and Sawchuk recommend limiting news consumption. Stay informed, but not plugged in 24/7.

Coronavirus distancing leapfrogs patients into telehealth for therapy

Like all of us – I wish we were on the other side of coronavirus looking back – then I’d say remember how social distancing got us to jump into telehealth for mental health therapy? We let go of a little HIPPA. We made the best of the technology we had, finishing on the phone when need be.

Today I’ll just point to the MPR article highlighting the shift to online mental health therapy…

Until last week, Jen Atherton, a mental health counselor, had rarely ever seen clients outside of her office — Not anymore. Like a lot of us, Atherton is working from home now and she’s seeing her patients via video. She said for her office, the switch to telehealth “was pretty much an overnight thing.”

So far, the biggest challenges have been technological: Some of it is bandwidth, which can get crowded with so many people on the internet and on Wi-Fi networks. Atherton said she’s also encountered problems with clients’ cellphones or when they’re sitting in noisy places.

She said she’s trying to adjust the best she can.

And of course, there’s the reminder that until we have ubiquitous broadband, these services are not available to everyone…

He’s worried that with new rules about social distancing, clients who can’t access care through telehealth won’t get any mental health care at all. He estimates that 20 to 25 percent — maybe more — of the families they serve don’t have smartphones, computers or the kind of internet access that would let them access telehealth services. For now, he said his providers are getting around that by informally checking in on clients on the phone.