A comprehensive provider for those dealing with issues surrounding mental health, addiction, and homelessness, Southeast Healthcare is a lifeline for its clients. Following Governor DeWine’s stay-at-home order, the organization knew it had to limit in-person contact, and focused on acquiring the equipment and software needed to move its services to an online platform.
Continuing contact with patients has been a priority for Southeast Healthcare, and telehealth has been a safe alternative to seeing patients in the office. Photo courtesy of Southeast Healthcare.
“With the support from the Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund we were able to purchase iPads, cell phones, and conferencing software that facilitated our ability to continue to have contact with our patients to deliver primary care, counseling, MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment), and psychiatric services using telehealth,” said Bill Lee, CEO of Southeast Healthcare. “Many of our patients have chronic medical conditions that need continuous monitoring and support to maintain their health.”
While COVID-19 has affected many Americans’ mental health, those struggling before the pandemic, as well as individuals battling addiction, are especially hard hit by isolation.
The capacity to offer telehealth services in a variety of formats has been the most significant change in our service delivery strategy.
BILL LEE, CEO of Southeast Healthcare
“The telehealth option has also been essential in supporting our mental health and addiction treatment efforts. Without these supports, our patients are at a much greater risk for exacerbation of symptoms,” Lee said. “We have been able to continue regular contact with our patients to provide ongoing treatment, support, and crisis intervention, which has been essential to assist in managing the stress that has impacted our entire community; the funding has supported continued safe access to care.”
While Lee and his team were able to convert many to telehealth services, some primary and behavioral healthcare services continued in person, both at Southeast Healthcare’s facility and in the community. Support from the Emergency Response Fund also allowed Southeast Healthcare to purchase PPE to keep clients and staff safe.
“The PPE we purchased, especially masks, has been essential to reduce the exposure risk to our workforce,” Lee said. “We are screening all patients, visitors, and staff at all our locations. We are also screening and testing for COVID-19, which is an essential service for our patients and the community.
Southeast Healthcare also operates a men’s shelter, Friends of the Homeless, as well as a pharmacy for patients. The PPE has allowed staff to continue to fill and refill medications, and also has enabled the organization’s Rapid Response Emergency Addiction and Crisis Team (RREACT) to continue outreach to overdose survivors and expand their capacity to conduct community visits.
“We simply would not have been able to continue in-person services if we could not obtain the needed PPE. We were also able to purchase hand sanitizer, and when we could not find hand sanitizer, we purchased the ingredients to make our own. All of these efforts have supported our workforce to keep in-person services available,” said Lee.