First, let me apologize for the delay in reaching out to you all; some of you know I have been out of town, but I have been following the news and trying to formulate a plan from afar (not an easy task). Our team knows the last few weeks have been a trying time for many of you, and we understand that many people are feeling concerned about the future is unknown. We want to assure you that we are doing everything we can to continue providing quality and ethical care while making difficult but necessary decisions. With the recent school closures in addition to the need for social distancing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, we are offering telehealth sessions effective March 19. Sessions will be conducted via video, and we are allowing a one-week transitional period of phone sessions if necessary. At this time, we will be continuing to offer in-person sessions at our office.
We are taking multiple precautions in order to provide a safe environment for everyone, including:
· Sanitizing common areas that include frequently touched objects (doorknobs, pens, faucets, etc.) multiple times throughout the day.
· Removing all toys, games, magazines, and other commonly touched items in the offices (including our Keurig and water dispenser).
· Avoiding physical contact, including hugs and handshakes, and maintaining a 6-foot distance when possible.
We are asking our clients to follow the following guidelines in order to continue prioritizing a healthy and safe environment:
· If you have a cough, fever, sore throat, non-allergy related sneezing, runny nose, or any symptoms that are abnormal to you, we ask that you refrain from coming into the office for at least 14 days. You must be fever-free for at least 14 days without the aid of a fever reducer before coming into our office.
· Please follow the CDC guidelines regarding personal hygiene: 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. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand-sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. We recommend doing this before and after your sessions in the office.
· Avoid touching your face as much as possible.
There is a chance that our practice may move to telehealth-only sessions, depending on what we hear about the spread of the virus over the coming days and weeks. These sessions can be completed on any smartphone, tablet, or computer, and are done via a HIPAA-secure platform through Google Meet. We have an agreement with Google to hold our data secure, and this software is included. As we recognize there are varying levels of technological know-how, we have chosen Google Meet for its ease-of-use. If you have any difficulty, please reach out to your provider.
Talk with your therapist about setting up a telehealth appointment. We want everyone to be prepared. As more insurance companies are covering telehealth sessions, we are offering these as an alternative as needed (we can check your specific policy). If your insurance does not cover telehealth, or if it is not appropriate (such as with EMDR), then we will waive the fee for late cancellations on a case-by-case basis; this does not apply to no shows. We will return to our normal policy when the risk has been neutralized.
We recognize telehealth may not be comfortable for everyone initially, but it is important to maintain consistent treatment throughout this time. The availability of our providers may change, and if you choose not to utilize telehealth and wish to postpone your treatment, your therapist may not be able to fit you in once we return to in-office hours. Please understand that late cancellations or no shows greatly affect the schedules of our providers as well, so we ask that you still give as much notice as possible if you need to cancel or reschedule.
One of the reasons ACT Services did not previously offer telehealth was the barrier presented by commercial insurance carriers; despite telehealth legislation being passed in 2015, many plans still did not cover it. We are truly in a time of uncharted territory; this may be the silver lining in that telehealth services, as well as mental health services, will now be covered for all universally. Unfortunately, we may be unable to provide estimates for your insurance coverage. Our priority is providing care to you. We promise to work with you if your insurance denies claims due to telehealth not being a covered benefit, and we are willing to set up payment plans, just as we have done since 2014. We are care providers because we want to help people, and we will continue to do so through this community turmoil. If you have specific questions about your plan, you are encouraged to call the number on the back of your card and confirm is video mental health sessions are a covered benefit.
We provide services to individuals of all ages and health conditions; we are being cautious about the well-being of all of our clients as well as our providers. We thank you for your understanding and patience throughout this new undertaking, as we monitor the situation closely and adjust as needed. Please don’t forget to take care of yourself.
Thinking of you all,
Cami Huysman, Owner, on behalf of the ACT Services Team